Finally Good News

The Real Alternatives to Coal

Posted on: January 16, 2012

After Canada’s bow out of the latest Kyoto summit, it’s easy to be disheartened with the current state of the environment

Ernest Moniz

Ernest Moniz, believes that US carbon emissions could be cut by a whopping 20% "overnight," if a successful carbon price was agreed upon

in governmental policy. But, there are huge advances in research and development currently taking place, with some of the world’s brightest minds actively seeking a feasible cut with coal. Some of these developments, such as solar power, are starting to move well beyond the ‘pipe dream’ phase and garner serious attention at the investment level. And let’s be honest, changes in human consumption can only really kick in when the profit motive becomes apparent for industry and attendant policymakers. The good news is that the time is right for businesses and researchers to get behind coal alternatives.

Having read recently that countries like Egypt, Morocco and those in Sub-Saharan Africa are making huge progress, from mainly German investors, for solar panels, is encouraging. There also appeared a brief profile recently on CNBC, in collaboration with the Harvard Business Review, about the possibility of gas being used much more efficiently, thus reducing the need for coal and oil. And this can be actualized now.

Professor of Physics at MIT, Ernest Moniz, believes that US carbon emissions could be cut by a whopping 20% “overnight,” if a successful carbon price was agreed upon.  He believes that oil for transportation is “hard to beat,” but that greater use of the currently large number of natural gas plants, at least in the US, could be hugely transformative for emissions. The challenge is getting governments to see that incentivizing emissions reductions by a fair carbon tax would ultimately cost much less than the consequences of future extreme weather on many areas of the world. Can the US do this alone? More strides need to be made on the carbon tax front, but businesses and governments are finally seeing the economic necessity, and reality of renewable energy. Stay tuned for more progress, it will no doubt be coming quickly.


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