Today the leaders of the G7 are just packing their bags and leaving Schloss Elmau in Bavaria. They talked about many things, but at last they are at least beginning to contemplate the end of the Fossil Fuel Era, and have called for a shift towards renewables and nuclear to replace fossil fuels. Roger Harrabin writing on the BBC website this morning says ‘This is a seismic shift- and an acknowledgement from the leaders, prompted by Angela Merkel, of the scale of the threat from climate change.’ So, a huge thank-you is due to Angela Merkel for getting the other more stuck in the mud leaders to begin to think the unthinkable. The timescale they are envisaging is still way too slow, but at least they are beginning to move.
Many factors may have influenced the world leaders to wake up to this issue. The Global Apollo Programme that I wrote about last week seems to be having an impact, as does the global disinvestment campaign and the economic threat of a fossil fuel asset bubble as climate change and the falling cost of renewables make fossil fuels increasingly unexploitable. The focus must be to shut down the global coal industry first: oil next, then gas, while all the time ramping up renewables, driving more efficient ways of doing things and also challenging the values of a consumer society. However this last point is the one world leaders are least likely to join in with yet, but seismic shifts do happen, so perhaps it’ll be on the cards for a future G7 meeting?
As ever with these things it is continued pressure from below that drags world leaders along. So time for a little quiet celebration all of you who’ve been lobbying on these issues for the last few decades! We’ll need to keep the pressure up, because for many of the world leaders climate change and energy transition is an issue they’d rather just not think about, let alone take the meaningful and rapid action required.
Two actions are emerging as the priorities that we should be lobbying world leaders to take. First stop subsidising the fossil fuel industry and switch the funding into renewables research and development. Second, now is the time to introduce a globally coordinated Carbon Tax.
Roger Harrabin http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33055651