Sustainable Consumption Patterns

Presently, an energy consumption pattern is determined mainly by economic considerations, as well as by personal and local convenience. This has resulted in a large fraction of obsolete energy components producing large negative environmental impact. Currently, energy consumption is characterized by large inefficiency. Analyses and practices in several countries have shown that it is possible to maintain and even increase GDP/capita without increasing energy consumption and even decreasing it. This strategy component is based on modem technologies which are energy frugal, notably on information and communication technologies. It is necessary to simultaneously analyse for each country social, economic and environmental impact introduced by these modem technologies.

Implementation of sustainable consumption patterns is slow, because production cost for renewable energy is much bigger than for the energy from fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

This cost estimate becomes completely different, if external costs are also taken into account in addition to direct costs of energy production. Here also the price of the damage caused to the environment is taken into account.

In Slovenia this damage due to climate changes alone exceeds 100 million Euros annually. In Slovenia until 2010 greenhouse gas emissions will rise by about 10% according to the EEA estimates instead of decreasing by 8% versus the 1986 baseline as agreed by the Kyoto protocol. According to most climate models the total world greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced well beyond Kyoto requirements to about one half of the current emissions in order to stabilize the climate and precent the negative effects caused by the threat of climate changes. In Slovenia C02 emissions alone represent 16.2 million tons anually. These emissions cause external damage estimated to 18 euros per tone by EEA. If we assume that one half of these emissions should be reduced in order to stabilize the global climate, this one half of the emissions amounts to the total of 140 million euros external costs. If Kyoto protocal was accepted, Slovenia should already buy the emission rights for more than 3 million tons C02 anually, which amounts to about 60 million euros anually. If this amount is used to support renewable energy sources and in this way take into account the external costs of energy use, the renewable energy sources would become competitive. This can of course not be done at a single country level, but a global agreement should be reached.

If we want to achieve sustainable consumption patterns, a global green tax reform is therefore needed. The cost of environmental damage produced by production of energy must be included into the consumer price.

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