This week we’ve seen a tidal wave of politicians, business leaders and philanthropists making all the right noises, calling for action on Climate Change and announcing new initiatives. A couple of the most impressive have been President Obama’s Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition led by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Both these projects seek to increase research and development in renewable energy technology, in order to bring the costs of renewables to below that of fossil fuels. This is just what the Global Apollo Programme has been calling for. A report from the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra claims existing renewable technologies are already cheaper and capable of meeting growing global energy demand. To bring the costs of renewables down further research and development needs to be pursued along with mass scale deployment, which is the goal of the International Solar Alliance of 120 countries, announced a few days ago by Presidents Modi of India and Hollande of France. All great stuff!
However there is sadly a yawning gulf between the statements of some politicians about action on climate change and the overall results of their policies. Matt McGrath, writing on BBC website said ‘in many nations the apparent contradiction is caused by politics. Different government departments had different plans… and these power battles are leading to many countries offering to cut their carbon while increasing their reliance on coal.’ India is a case in point. The UK intends to quit coal, but is increasing subsidies for oil and gas. Such confused and inconsistent policies are not helpful.
While politicians from large and powerful countries hog the limelight in Paris and desire to be seen as showing leadership, real leadership is being best demonstrated by countries like Morocco and Uruguay, Denmark and Sweden, which are all quietly busy developing modern renewables based economies and so showing leadership through action and not just words. Still I do wholeheartedly welcome these new initiatives and speeches: thinking and speaking of good intentions is the first step toward change, but it is only real and consistent action that will save us all from the worst ravages of extreme climate change. Humanity needs to shift to net negative carbon emissions as fast as possible and the individual country that achieves that goal for itself first will have demonstrated leadership the rest can follow.
Matt MGrath on BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34977265