The sums of money might be big, but they make economic sense.
And before you shake your head, mind boggled by the amounts involved, consider this: spending just 1% of global GDP per year on renewable energy will avert catastrophic climate change.
It pays to pay attention.
A new report released by Greenpeace and its partners today shows that investing an annual US$1.2 trillion in new power plants up to 2050, will lead to US$1.3 trillion in fuel cost savings per year. Simply put, the investments will pay for themselves in the long-term.
Consider also this: changing the current energy policies to focus on renewables will create employment in the energy sector in what would otherwise be a shrinking jobs market.
Rather than the forecast decline in global energy jobs to 17.9 million in 2020, the energy revolution will ensure there are still 22.6 million jobs in the sector, slightly more than the 22.5 million jobs reported in 2010.
So you’d think it would be an easy sell to the world’s political and business leaders: invest in renewable energy, boost the economy and create jobs. They’d even be saving the planet at the same time.
And yet, apparently fatalistic corporate and government energy policymakers are placing the world on a collision course with devastating global warming.
Today’s Energy [R]evolution report, jointly released by Greenpeace, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), illustrates that change is possible (and affordable).
A renewable energy renaissance will mean that drilling for oil in pristine areas such as the Arctic, which oil major Shell intends to do this summer, or moves to exploit other marginal sources of oil such as the tar sands in Canada can be circumvented.
Exploring the scenario of “peak conventional oil”, today’s report gives a detailed, practical roadmap for reducing global oil demand by around 80%, especially for the transportation sector.
In future, renewable energy technologies could provide more than 90% of global electricity and heating, and more than 70% of transportation.
Importantly, renewable energy is already a major success story, accounting for 13.5% of the world’s primary energy demand in 2009.
Greenpeace will continue to campaign, however, for governments and business leaders to take a stance now and chart a new course to a sustainable, fossil fuel free economy.
This means measures must be imposed to ensure new cars in Europe meet an average efficiency standard by 2020 that is 40% lower than today. Other regions must also implement similar car efficiency standards.
Transport energy must in future come from renewable electricity – mainly from wind and solar power plants.
In addition, governments need to commit themselves to phasing out dirty energy sources, decouple economic growth from fossil fuel use and implement renewable energy solutions.
If the global energy supply is based almost entirely on renewable energies, CO2 emissions would drop, after peaking in 2015, the year international climate scientists say is crucial. By 2050, CO2 emissions would be more than 80% lower than in 1990.
All that this requires is political and corporate will.
Sven Teske, Senior Energy Expert, Greenpeace International