Govts urged to spend more on green energy

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Prominent economists and financial organisations are calling on governments and the private sector across the globe to address the development of renewable energy and shift their investments away from emission-intensive infrastructure and move toward more sustainable transportation.

“There is a need for a lot more research on the storage, transmission and portability of energy for transport now,” Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate and professor of economy and philosophy at Harvard University, said in his keynote speech at the three-day International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany.

The May 22-24 forum, which was attended by more than a thousand participants from 54 countries, including ministers, high-ranking official, experts and private-sector representatives, focused on the dilemma of funding.

According to Sen, developing renewable energy for the transport sector faced many kinds of challenges, including guaranteeing the continuous availability of power generated by solar or wind-energy sources.

“This takes us to scientific and engineering research on cutting down the cost of storage and transmission,” he said, adding that some research is already underway but much more needs to be done.

Sen explained that there was a need for more radical research to find some form of non-fossil fuel that can be used for aviation. Also, the dependence on fossil fuel has to be addressed at many different levels in research.

“Different types of research in science and engineering are needed to address the problem of energy usage in transportation, which is very important for trade, and their role in helping economic progress as well as in removing human deprivation,” he said.

Sen added that even developing better means of public transport can cut down on more energy-guzzling ways of moving people and goods around. But all this needs a great deal of public discussion as well as careful decision-making on public policy, he warned.

The economist also raised concerns about achieving equilibrium between the expansion of transport and the environment. He pointed out that if transport was central to economic progress and to reaching those who do not benefit from growth, then there is a need for the expansion of the type of transport that will be essential to enhancing the quality of life.

Transportation has been a significant source of fine-particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and ozone, which pose serious risks to human health.

A recent Environmental Outlook by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projects that premature deaths from exposure to particulate air pollutants will double from the current level to 3.6 million per year by 2050. Over this period, transport-related greenhouse-gas emissions – which are driven mainly by the growing demand for cars in emerging economies – are expected to double unless additional policies are put in place.

However, as stretched public finances provide limited opportunities for public investments, it is critical for governments from advanced, emerging and developing countries to engage the private sector to scale-up investment in transport infrastructure.

“We, therefore, face the opportunity – and the urgency – to move private investment towards building right, not just building more. By scaling-up and shifting investment towards more sustainable transport modes we can reduce local air pollution and traffic congestion and achieve significant environmental, human health, social and economic benefits,” Angel Gurria, OECD secretary-general, told the forum.

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