In December talks in Paris involving more than 200 countries may result in a new agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In the months leading up to the conference, The Economist will be publishing guest columns by experts on the economic issues involved.

In December talks in Paris involving more than 200 countries may result in a new agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In the months leading up to the conference, The Economist is publishing guest columns by experts on the economic issues involved.

Decarbonising electricity production is an essential step in reducing our society's greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global warming.  Many countries have therefore engaged in the transition towards a new world in which the majority of megawatt hours are produced using renewable energy sources, mainly wind or solar energy.  To that end, they have distributed massive subsidies over the past decade: 101 billion dollars in 2012 alone, 57 billion of that in the European Union.[1]  A recent academic study using British data provides a clearer understanding of this "new world". This post presents two of the study's key findings: first, the difficult coexistence of renewable and traditional technologies, and second the need to maintain renewable energy subsidies.

As Francisco, the Argentine born Pope concludes a Latin American visit that took him to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, many observers have put emphasis on the social agenda that has been obvious in his many acts and words.

Numerous Europeans view Europe as a one-way street: they appreciate its advantages but are little inclined to accept common rules.

This December France will play host to crowds of diplomats as the United Nations holds make-or-break talks on climate change. The challenge for delegates in Paris is to achieve a binding agreement that will limit the increase in the world’s temperature to no more than 2°C. It is an incredibly difficult task. But economics can shed light on which strategies have the best chance at success. 

The French transmission system operator, RTE, has recently started implementation of an electric power capacity mechanism, to be operational on 1 January 2017,which aims at ensuring France’s generation adequacy, i.e., ensuring that installed generation capacity will exceed demand under almost every circumstance. Other European countries are implementing or considering implementation of capacity mechanisms.  This post describes the genesis of these mechanisms, then examines their pros and cons.

The recent visit of President Hollande to French West Indies is an opportunity to discuss one of the components of France’s Contribution to the Public Electricity Service, namely the compensation for higher cost of production in zones that are not connected to the continental French power grid (Corsica, overseas departments, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the Brittany Islands of Molène, Ouessant, and Sein, the Glénan archipelago and the Chausey Channel Islands).

Mating strategies to suicide bombing: which is the better sex and which more likely to want to know?

There is a birth defect that is surprisingly common, due to a change in a key pair of chromosomes”, writes Melv

In this post we will defend the idea that the drop in oil prices is not due to an increase in supply, but rather to 9 years of stagflation resulting in a decrease in the market. The drop in oil prices signifies that we have entered the contraction phase of oil production: a paradigm change.

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