Atmospheric CO2‚ is now at 393.18ppm and rising fast. Newspaper headlines this week highlight the danger. Turning the global economy around and getting CO2‚ concentrations back to the safe upper limit of 350ppm will be an epic struggle. Meanwhile the other big story this week has been Angela Merkel’s decision, influenced by the German Green Party’s strong showing at recent local elections, to phase-out nuclear power by 2022. Many critics of this say this will inevitably mean rising use of coal and gas, with consequent emissions, or the hypocritical importation of French nuclear generated electricity
The central message behind this blog is that it is imperative that we reduce emissions rapidly, and that a vast level of investment in energy efficiency and renewables is the best way to do this. What Germany does over the coming years will be a test case, but if a renewables based economy can work in a densely populated and heavily industrialised economy like Germany it can work anywhere.
The policy change is already having ramifications on the German power industry as the big four companies who have huge vested interests in large centralised nuclear and coal plants are becoming displaced by 900 or so smaller municipal power companies keen to generate decentralised renewable energy. Some of this renewable energy will be locally generated; some will come from more distant sources. For example Stadtwerke Munchen is investing heavily in a broad mix of local renewables, plus concentrating solar in Spain and North Sea wind.
The scale of the challenge facing humanity is immense. Vast sums will need to be raised. Carbon taxes, energy taxes, higher income and wealth taxes will need to be implemented globally to make the multitrillion investments needed to lower carbon emissions sufficiently quickly to avert climate catastrophe.
World Climate ‘on the brink’
German nuclear phase-out
More on the changing nature of German electricity companies