Forget Kyoto and move on, says World Energy Council

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The Kyoto climate treaty is irrelevant and it is time to move on and boost investment in reliable, clean energy for the future, although prices will rise, a leading international energy official said on Thursday. World Energy Council Secretary General Gerald Doucet said he doubted the Kyoto pact would ever come into effect, with Russia and Australia unlikely to ratify the treaty that aims to cut the emission of gases causing global warming by 5.2 percent by 2012.

“Kyoto has served a political purpose but, in reality, will make no difference to actual levels of greenhouse gas emissions,” Doucet said. The United Nations treaty stipulates that developed nations responsible for 55 percent of air pollution must ratify the pact for it to come into effect. But after top polluter, the United States, pulled out, Russia and Australia refused to sign up.

Whether the protocol remained on the shelf was “irrelevant”, as the international cooperation in drafting the treaty had already successfully raised awareness about greenhouse gas emissions, said Doucet, during an Asian tour to rally support for a World Energy Congress in Sydney in September.

The focus in energy markets since the last world congress three-years ago had shifted from environmental concerns, and ensuring reliability and access to energy supplies from 2010 to 2030 was now the main issue. A lack of investment had led to a shortage of infrastructure, highlighted by recent blackouts in Italy, Canada and the United States, and the industry needed encouragement to invest more in sustainable energy projects, he said.

However, this would come at a cost. The London-based World Energy Council, which has member committees in more than 90 nations, forecast a period of higher real energy prices. “We believe these costs of emissions management should be built into the price of energy and that’s why we say we are moving into a more expensive energy world,” said Doucet, who has headed the non-government organisation for seven years.

Setting arbitrary targets was misguided, said Doucet, ruling out another world climate treaty along the lines of Kyoto and calling for international partnerships on clean technology such as the 15-nation “Carbon Capture Sequestration Leadership Forum”. India and China, whose demand for energy was rising by up to eight percent a year, should invite investment in clean technology to meet their future energy needs, Doucet said.

“If you want reliable, affordable electricity you have to allow investment to take place so there is now a huge debate on investor-friendly regulation supporting market reform,” he said.