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The Case for a Supply-Side Climate Treaty

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The Case for a Supply-Side Climate Treaty

The Paris Agreement can be strengthened by a treaty limiting global fossil fuel supply

Science,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Fossil fuel production pacts could be the key to reducing carbon emissions and averting climate crisis.


Editorial Rating

8

Qualities

  • Analytical
  • Applicable
  • Bold

Recommendation

Decades of efforts to avert the global climate crisis by reducing demand for fossil fuels have been discouragingly ineffective. Reduced demand in one place causes prices to drop, stimulating demand somewhere else. This intriguing paper by a team of European researchers offers new hope for those discouraged by the impasse by suggesting that if a number of countries agreed to cap fossil fuel production, the price signals that result could counterbalance demand-side efforts’ fatal flaws and motivate the development of low-carbon technologies at relatively little cost.

Summary

People need to curb fossil fuel use, but reducing demand isn’t working.

To keep global warming below 2ºC, people need to leave much of Earth’s supply of fossil fuels in the ground. Policies like the Paris Agreement aim to do so by restricting combustion on a country-by-country basis. However, demand-side commitments haven’t been successful in reducing fossil fuel use and restricting the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Because not all countries agree to reduce demand, fossil fuel prices drop and consumption increases in other countries.

A combination of demand-side and supply-side limits could provide the needed economic signals. 

Agreements that limit fossil fuel extraction, when used alone and only in some countries, would cause prices to increase...

About the Authors

The nine authors, G.B. Asheim, T. Fæhn, K. Nyborg, M. Graeker, C. Hagem, B. Harstad, M.O. Hoel, D. Lund and K.E. Rosendahl, are part of the Oslo Centre for Research on Environmentally Friendly Energy at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway.


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