Rae Kwon Chung: Decarbonisation could become a driver in creating jobs
Reducing carbon emissions entails not only risks – but also opportunities for the world economy. This was the key theme in a lecture delivered by Nobel Prize Winner Rae Kwon Chung on 2nd June at the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnical University.

The photo is sourced from the press-service of of the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University

The meeting was moderated by the Rector of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU), Academician of RAS Andrey Rudskoi, SPbPU vice-rector Vitaly Sergeev and President of the Global Energy Association Sergey Brilev.

    In his address, Rae Kwon Chung discussed the challenges of decarbonisation for both developed and developing countries.

   “Does the fight against climate change pose a risk to the economy?” – Having asked this question, Rae Kwon Chung proposed a series of measures that could help a wide range of countries achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

  • The role of tax stimulus.  By introducing a carbon tax on the end-use price of energy, governments could also bring in reductions in income tax. That would stimulate a transition to renewable energy sources without increasing the overall tax burden.
  • Growing interest in decarbonisation makes the notion more economically beneficial. From the beginning of 2021, carbon prices in the European system of trade in quotas of greenhouse gas emissions (EU-ETS – European Union Emission Trading Scheme) have risen by 1.5 times and for the first time crossed the threshold of $50 a tonne. That development was triggered by U.S. President Joe Biden’s declared policy objective of doubling the level of cuts in carbon emissions by 2030.
  • Although the considerable reserves of fossil fuels are not the best possible stimulus for green technologies, there are niches for introducing these technologies in Russia. An example of this is underground storage of CO2 – Russia has more options for this than do smaller European countries.
  • Another niche could be production of “blue” hydrogen as natural gas is the fundamental element underpinning it and Russia is the world leader in gas reserves.
  • In addition to practical measures, the transition to zero emissions can be buttressed by a consensus in society around the idea that decarbonisation — like investment and education – can be of great benefit in the long term.

In summing up, Rae Kon Chung stressed the role of science and new developments in decarbonisation.

“Unlike previous industrial revolutions, the current revolution linked to a transition to a low-carbon economy is in no way a spontaneous development – rather, it is a managed trend,” he said, while adding that the issue was not related exclusively to research and development but also to coordinated decision-making at the national and international levels.


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June 2021