Let's get there sooner

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Politicians and investors in third world countries have long said it's hard to reduce the emissions that are warming the planet because they need to use relatively inexpensive, but carbon-intensive fuels like coal to keep energy affordable. That argument is losing validity as the price of renewable energy from wind and solar continue to fall.

Last year, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of new electricity-generating capacity added around the world, according to a recent United Nations report. More than half the $286 billion invested in wind, solar and other renewables occurred in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil.

The average global cost of generating electricity from solar panels fell 61 percent between 2009 and 2015 and 14 percent for land-based wind turbines. In sunny parts of the world like India and Dubai, developers of solar farms have recently offered to sell electricity for less than half the global average price.

These are all good signs but the trend could and should be accelerated through greater use of tax incentives for investment in renewable energy and more tax disincentives for using fossil fuels.

The consequences of continuing our traditional use of fossil fuels are unacceptable.