The Contribution of Energy Consumption to Climate Change: A Feasible Policy Direction
Mitigating climate change is one of the biggest challenges that confront mankind in the present millennium. The problem has continued to dominate public debates in terms of its origin, sources, potential impacts and possibly adaptation strategies. In this paper, the contributions of energy to the climate change debate are explored. The analysis shows that since about 1850, the global use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) has increased and dominated world energy consumption and supply. The rapid rise in fossil fuel combustion has produced a corresponding rapid growth in CO2 emissions and accounts for over 80% of global anthropogenic green house gas emissions (GHGs) in 2008. It was shown that a substantial amount of CO2 emissions still emanates from the increased use of heavy polluting fuel like coal by industrializing countries like the United States, Japan and China. Historically, the developed countries have contributed the most to cumulative global CO2 emissions and still have the highest total historical emission. A disaggregated analysis indicates that two sectors of the economy, electricity and heat as well as the transport sector (majorly road transport), emit greater amounts of GHGs. Some mitigation mechanisms have been suggested including improved energy efficiency, energy pricing reforms, imposition of carbon emission taxes, promoting investment in renewable energy technologies and creating public environmental awareness.
Keywords: Climate change; Fossil fuel; CO2 emissions
JEL Classifications: Q40, Q20, Q32