Push renewables to spur carbon pricing

Make wind and solar power even cheaper by opening up access to the electricity grid and ending fossil-fuel subsidies.

The Rise of Renewables

Putting a price on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to curb emissions must be the centrepiece of any comprehensive climate-change policy. We know it works: pricing carbon creates broad incentives to cut emissions. Yet the current price of carbon remains much too low relative to the hidden environmental, health and societal costs of burning a tonne of coal or a barrel of oil. The global average price is below zero, once half a trillion dollars of fossil-fuel subsidies are factored in.


The current inadequacy of carbon pricing stems from a catch-22. Policymakers are more likely to price carbon appropriately if it is cheaper to move onto a low-carbon path. But reducing the cost of renewable energies requires investment, and thus a carbon price.

In our view, the best hope of ending this logjam rests with tuning policies to drive down the cost of renewable power sources even further and faster than in the past five years. The cost of crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) modules has fallen by 99% since 1978 and by 80% since 2008; installation costs for wind power have also dropped, and solar and wind capacity has grown […]. Prices will continue to fall, but — without more help — the decrease will not be fast enough to make a dent in the climate problem.

Full text: “Push renewables to spur carbon pricing


Wagner, Gernot, Tomas Kåberger, Susanna Olai, Michael Oppenheimer, Katherine Rittenhouse, and Thomas Sterner. “Push renewables to spur carbon pricingNature 525: 27–29 (3 September 2015).

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