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UN calls fossil fuels ‘high risk’ investment at climate talks

UN calls fossil fuels ‘high risk’ investment at climate talks
The Dec 1-12 meeting in Lima opened with hopes that a UN deal to slow climate change is in reach
for 2015, helped by goals set by China, the US and the European Union to cut greenhouse emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s Climate Change Secretariat, dismissed suggestions that a tumble in the price of oil to a five-year low on Monday could brake hopes for a shift to renewable energies as a cornerstone of the climate deal.

Oil price volatility “is exactly one of the main reasons why we must move to renewable energy which has a completely predictable cost of zero for fuel” once wind turbines or solar panels were built, she said.

“We are seeing more and more the realization that investment in fossil fuel is actually a high risk, is getting more and more risky,” she said, welcoming a decision by Germany’s top utility to spin off power plants to focus on renewable energy and power grids. Still, other experts said the oil price fall could slow some investments in renewables and may make fossil fuel exporters such as Russia and Saudi Arabia reluctant to make concessions at the climate talks, fearing they could undermine their earnings.

“It’s hard to tell what the total net impact will be here,” Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said after Brent crude fell as low as $67.53 a barrel, its lowest level since October 2009, before rebounding to settle at $72.54.

Delegates in Lima are due to work out elements of a deal due to be agreed at a UN summit in Paris next year as part of a UN goal to limit average world temperature rises to 2 degrees  above pre-industrial times.


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