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Renewable energy is not an end in itself  

Sir, In the climate initiative announced last week by the European Commission, a difficult requirement for many countries will be the separate goal for the share of renewable energy. This goal will lead to perverse consequences when combined with the goal for the total emissions of carbon dioxide. Requiring an increase of the share of renewables with given total emissions of carbon dioxide is the same as requiring an increase in energy consumption.

For example, many of the houses in Sweden are heated by biofuels. One way to meet the proposed requirement would be to degrade the insulation and increase the temperature in these houses. This would increase the share of renewables without increasing the emissions of carbon dioxide.

Production of renewable energy is good as long it replaces fossil fuels, but it is not an end in itself. It is better for the environment to save energy than to replace fossil fuels by renewables. Yet the Commission wants to punish energy saving.

Jonas Nycander,
Dept of Meteorology,
Stockholm University,
106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Financial Times (UK)

28 January 2008

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