Greenpeace Offers 'Blueprint' for Climate, Economic Crises

Investing in renewable power generation and energy efficiency could create a $360 billion industry, says Greenpeace.

Greenpeace presented on Oct. 27 a "practical blueprint" it says would not only improve the world's energy mix and stop climate change but also help end the global financial crisis. Aggressively investing in renewable power generation and energy efficiency could create a $360 billion industry providing half of the world's electricity, according to the study by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) presented in Berlin.

This would slash over $18 trillion in future fuel costs, allow greenhouse gas emissions to peak and then fall by 2015, and reduce average carbon emissions per person from today's four tons to around one ton by 2050, it said.

"Especially in the context of today's economic instability, investing in renewable energy technologies is a 'win-win-win' scenario: a win for energy security, a win for the economy and a win for the climate," the green pressure group said, suggesting the only barriers to realising this were political.

Moreover, Greenpeace says all this can be achieved while ensuring economies in China, India and other developing nations have access to the energy they need. "Countries like China and India are well placed to take the enormous investment opportunity presented by the energy revolution," said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Greenpeace International program director. "The energy revolution is key to them climate-proofing their development."

Objections by developing nations have been a sticking point in global efforts to set targets for emissions reductions, with these countries arguing that making pledges on energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy sources would cripple their rise from poverty.

China and India have called on developed countries to lead the way in cutting CO2 emissions, while the U.S. and Japan say these industrialising giants must also agree to binding commitments.

Sven Teske, Greenpeace energy expert and co-author of the report, said it was a myth that being green would hobble economic growth. "Unlike other energy scenarios that promote energy futures at the cost of the climate, our energy revolution scenario shows how to save money and maintain global economic development without fuelling catastrophic climate change," he said. "All we need to kick start this plan is bold energy policy from world leaders."

Strict efficiency standards make sound economic sense and dramatically slow down rising global energy demand, and the energy saved in industrialised countries will make space for increased energy use in developing economies, he said.

Oliver Schaefer, EREC Policy Director, said the global market for renewable energy could grow at double digit rates until 2050, and overtake the size of today's fossil fuel industry. Because of economies of scale, "renewable energies such as wind power at good sites are already competitive with conventional power. From around 2015 onwards, we are confident that renewable energies across all sectors will be the most cost effective," Schaefer said.

"The renewable industry is ready and able to deliver the needed capacity to make the energy revolution a reality. There is no technical impediment but a political barrier to rebuild the global energy sector," he added.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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