The US and Europe need to take the lead in moving towards a globally “carbon poor” economy, former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers has said.

Speaking during the keynote speech at PowerGen Europe in Amsterdam, Lubbers called on the US and Europe – as the most mature economies – to take the lead and agree to adopt a ‘polluter pays’ principle to move towards a floor price of €50 per ton of CO2.

“Politicians, who met at the Copenhagen summit last year to thrash out an alternative to the Kyoto protocol, must recognise that the world is still divided by different stages of development,” Lubbers said.

“We need both common and differentiated responsibilities for countries in order to move towards a CO2-poor economy,” he added.

Using the example of CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies, Lubbers spoke of an “enormous potential” to drive down CO2 levels, particularly in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where using the technology could reduce emissions by 50% by 2025.

Lubbers, who continues to take a leading role in environmental issues both in the Netherlands and beyond, has also called on politicians and governments to “live up to” the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty to ensure enriched uranium is not used for military purposes in preparation for a “nuclear renaissance”.

Progress towards a low-carbon economy can only be made through treaties and additional research, Lubbers said as he praised US President Barack Obama for “taking a new initiative to take it [climate change policy] forward.”