UN climate scientist says clean tech good investment

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The United Nations scientist whose report set the global standard for climate change sees biofuels as a good investment bet and advised yesterday that people eat less meat to help curb global warming.

In an interview on what individuals in developed countries can do to slow climate change and profit in the process, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, advised investors to assume the future will be low-carbon.

“Investors should be going toward clean technologies,” he said. “The world is going to move toward a low-carbon future. That is inevitable.”

The IPCC’s 2007 report galvanized global reaction to climate change with predictions that world temperatures could rise as much as 11.5 degrees F (6.4 degrees Celsius) this century if carbon emissions were not tackled.

New technologies, some of which are still in the lab, could become important, Pachauri said on the sidelines of the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles.

“Battery technology is going to be extremely important, but I wouldn’t rule out the importance of biofuels. Of course it won’t be biofuels converting corn into ethanol. It will be a new generation of biofuels that has relatively low environmental and other social impacts.”

“Production of hydrogen from water in a way that’s not going to be terribly intensive in terms of conventional forms of energy,” could be important. “You have algae that has a lot of potential” as a biofuel, he added.

On a personal level, Pachauri advised citizens of developed countries to cut back on eating meat, which is extremely energy intensive to produce; walk instead of drive when possible; and turn the thermostat up or down a bit.

Put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat instead of wearing a T-shirt indoors in winter, he said.

Buying energy-efficient lights and putting solar panels on the roof would also help, he said.

“I would look at even simple technologies like, you know, when you go into an office, why not have sensors by which lights get switched on or switched off by themselves?” Such simple solutions are cheap and pay for themselves, he said.

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