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By Marsha Freeman

From: NEN, Vol. 6, No. 1, May 1998, p. 21.
New Energy News (NEN) copyright 1998 by Fusion Information Center, Inc.
COPYING NOT ALLOWED without written permission.


Marsha Freeman, "Kyoto Protocol Means U.S. Energy Austerity," 21st Century Sci. & Tech., vol 11, no 1, Spring 1998, pp 83, 95.


In order to achieve the reduction of carbon emissions to 7% below the 1990 levels, as was agreed upon in the Kyoto Protocol, consumers will be looking at higher prices for energy and products and also a national GDP (Gross Domestic Product) loss relating to it. The money will be used by industry to comply with the guidelines passed down to them.

The government will allocate $2.7 billion (of a $6 billion Climate Change Initiative) over the next 5 years to developing technologies that are supposed to be more energy efficient and climate friendly. $100 million of that will be used to subsidize the use of "renewable" energy sources.... the older variety, i.e., wind, geothermal, biomass, and small-scale hydro. Most of the remedies are ones that have been tried before, with no remarkable results.

Unfortunately, these old renewable technologies are rendered non-competitive not just by price, but by the fact that the energy density is so low as to be much less productive than fossil fuel and nuclear sources. If the $2.7 million would instead be directed at such goals as the engineering and commercial development of "new" energy technologies and next-generation nuclear systems, this money could produce long term advances in our global energy technology. "Every federal dollar wasted on promoting low-technology, pre-industrial energy systems takes resources away from the technologies for the next century that, rather than being a drain on the economy, would increase the efficiency and productivity of all of our economic activity."

Although the Global Warming scenario may or may not be true, no one will gainsay the need to cut fossil fuel's grip on the energy economy. In the long run, the most feasible way is to invest in research into advanced energy sources and systems.

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Jun. 1, 1998.