Why the World Needs To Increase Renewable Energy Investment

June 13, 2012 in Clean tech by Gina-Marie Cheeseman

English: Greenchoice is a renewable-energy sup...

English: Greenchoice is a renewable-energy supplier in the Netherlands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world is on track to see a temperature increase of over 3.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned. Climate experts warn that in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, temperature increases need to not exceed two degrees Celsius. Climate change could cost Latin American and Caribbean countries over $100 billion by 2050, according to a joint report by the Inter-American Development Bank, Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The report calls for “forceful” reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

A serious growth of clean technology, or green growth, is critical to mitigate climate change, a Brookings Institute report points out. Renewable energy is a key part of green growth. The IEA thinks that global investment in clean energy needs to double by 2020 in order for climate change targets to be met. Specifically, the IEA is calling for $23.9 trillion worth of investments by 2020, and $140 trillion by 2050. Countries can take heart in the IEA’s assessment that every dollar invested in clean energy will reap three dollars in fuel savings, and by 2025, the total savings will offset the investments.

The European Union gets that renewable energy is important. In 2007, the European Commission set a target for members countries to achieve 20 percent renewable energy and 10 percent renewable in transport by 2020. Strong growth in renewable energy could generate over three million jobs, including in small and medium sized companies, according to a report recently released by the European Commission. The EU, the report states, is “currently on track to achieve its goals.”

“A renewable energy target for 2030 is an essential element in the post-2020 strategy. It will keep Europe at the forefront of innovation, and will aid economic recovery by boosting jobs,” said Imke Lübbeke, Senior Renewable Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office. “An increasing role for renewable energy will also help to cut the hundreds of billions of euros (€315bn) Europe pays every year for imported coal, oil and gas.”

“Refining the details of a new legislation covering the period 2020-2030 will take time, but it is vital that we start by building solid foundations now. We look forward to member states backing a 2030 target,” added Imke Lübbeke.

California, the most populous state in the U.S., also gets that renewable energy investment is important. The state has a renewable portfolio standard of 33 percent by 2020, which is 13 percent more than the EU’s target. California Governor Jerry Brown recently called for 12,000 megawatts of distributed generation (DG) to help meet the 2020 target. As Greentech Media puts it, “That’s a lot of rooftop and ground-mounted solar, small and community wind, small biomass/biogas production, combined heat and power and other such local renewables.”

There is a saying that as California goes, so goes the nation. In the case of renewable energy generation, hopefully, that saying will hold true, not just for other states, but the world.

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