Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We urgently need a carbon-solutions-neutral advisor

Like the obese compulsive eater reaching for his sugar substitute it is amazing to see the growing divergence between how serious our global environmental problems are reported to be and the type of solutions that are put on the table.

As long as you think that you could throw some ethanol, some solar panels, some windmills, some “clean” coal slogans or some recycling of unsold-food-into-energy on those problem… well then it cannot really be that bad.

As long as hurting the environment is considered just venial sins that you can take care of by buying some carbon indulgences… well then it cannot really be that bad.

As long as you could argue to developing countries that they have the right to expect developed countries to foot the bill for confronting their environmental urgencies instead of being forthright telling them not to count much on that and to get cracking… well then it cannot really be that bad.

One of our problem is not so much realizing how serious the environmental problems really are but of how to keep all the green-magical-solution potions peddlers from meddling... which means something like the environment being too serious to be left in the hand of environmentalists.

At this junction what the world needs most is a carbon-solution-neutral agency sufficiently capable and credible to spell out the truths… like for instance that the US has to impose European levels of taxes on gasoline consumption if they are going to get anywhere… and that given the scarcity of resources there are thousand of solutions that are more economically effective than hybrid-cars.

The World Bank does seem as the natural place to host such an agency but this of course could require some shake, rattle and roll, as can be exemplified by the fact that in the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Review and Practitioner's Handbook published by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and of which the World Bank is one of the implementing agents, there is not a single phrase that defines what on earth, on the earth, energy efficiency really means.

Also in all documentation related to the development of an Investment Framework for Clean Energy and Development I challenge anyone to find a definition of what is meant with clean energy… most probably because that could lead to a more precise definition of what is “dirty energy” which would be quite uncomfortable for some.

Friends, a truly carbon-solutions-neutral advisor would probably not allowed biofuels to even show up for the casting.