French minister Royal calls for raise in cost of fossil fuels

Segolene Royal, France’s energy minister, has called for a hike in the cost of burning coal, oil and gas-fired power in order to stimulate greater investment in renewables and away from conventional power generation.

Royal was speaking in London to the FT as the build-up continues to the finalisation of a new global climate change agreement in Paris next month.

“I think that’s what we have to do. We have to aim for €100 a tonne. It’s a good price,” she said. That figure is more than 10 times the prevailing EU price of emitting carbon dioxide.

Countries voluntarily sign up to national climate plans and with division on the prospect of making fossil more expensive, the agreement was never expected to contain explicit rules for a global carbon price.

Leaders are instead hoping that the Paris talks will provide greater cooperation among the nearly 60 countries, regions or cities that already use some form of carbon pricing, such as the EU’s emissions trading system or British Columbia’s carbon tax.

Some options in the text would also make it easier for countries without such schemes to offset their pollution by buying emissions reduction allowances from other nations that impose a price on carbon pollution.

Even if these measures end up in a final Paris agreement, which is far from certain, they are a long way from creating an international carbon price, which is what many academics say is needed to shift investments away from fossil fuels.

Ms Royal brushed off concerns that draft text contains so many competing options that it may be hard to produce a robust climate accord.

Some countries have continued to delay their intentions and Ms Royal singled out Saudi Arabia as one example saying they must produce a plan before the Paris meeting starts.

“I think that as soon as one of them will move in that part of the world the others will follow suit,” she said.

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