SYDNEY, March 2 (UPI) -- Putting a tax on carbon isn't the way to solve global warming, says a leading climate change expert.
Instead, countries should focus on making green energy cheaper to lower greenhouse gas emissions, Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. in an interview aired Thursday in Australia.
"Trying to make fossil fuels so expensive that nobody wants them is just never going to succeed," said Lomborg, director of Denmark's Copenhagen Consensus Center and adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School.
"It's politically impossible and it's economically a bad idea. That's why … we need to make green energy so cheap (that) everyone wants it."
Citing Denmark's status as a leader in wind energy, Lomborg noted that windmills built during the 1970s to early 1990s were "incredibly inefficient" and most have been replaced with more efficient models.
So, rather than focusing on "vast volumes" of green technologies, he said, it is more effective for nations to begin with a small number of installations and then make the leap to the next generation.
Lomborg, who is touring Australia, said about $100 billion should be spent globally on research and development for green energy.
Even if a substantial carbon tax is introduced, he said, "it's only going to reduce emissions a little."
And it's unlikely that the world's top three emitters -- China, the United States and India -- would adopt such a scheme.
"But if we could innovate the price down of solar panels over the next two to four decades to be cheaper than fossil fuels, we would have solved global warming. Everyone, including the Chinese and the Indians, would switch," Lomborg told ABC.
Lomborg's visit to Australia comes as the country undertakes its political debate on a carbon tax after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced last week a framework for implementing a carbon tax by July 1, 2012.
By 2020, Australia aims to cut emissions by at least 5 percent compared with 2000 levels. However, recent government estimates suggest the country's emissions are set to rise 24 percent more than 2000 levels by 2020 unless serious curbs are implemented.
The opposition's alternative plan to buy carbon credits on the international market would cost tens of billions of dollars more than a carbon tax, the government says.
Lomborg says a "small" carbon tax is "fine."
"But, the important point here is to recognize that is not going to solve global warming," he said.