Renewable Energy Can Save Us From Climate Change

The new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that Earth is already swimming in catastrophic dystopia – and only renewable energies like solar can save us from much, much worse.

No one on the planet, the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) reminds us, will be left untouched.

Societies around the world are already being hammered by increasing heatwaves, firestorms, floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather, due to exponential melting of Earth’s ice caps and shelves. The ripple effects are accelerating dramatically outward, annihilating crops, disrupting food systems, drying up freshwater aquifers and snowpacks, swallowing homes and cities under rising sea levels and lethally intensifying violence worldwide because of worsening poverty and economic shocks.

“Therefore, climate change is already becoming a determining factor in the national security policies of states,” explained a press release (PDF) from Christina Figueres, secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

None of this is a shock to anyone who has been paying attention.

Renewables advocates have been loudly beating this drum long before the IPCC’s last report in 2007 basically said the same thing, with much less scientific and sociopolitical hindsight. Now, we all must seize the international spotlight to turn the tide against catastrophic climate change by spreading the enormous good news about solar and wind, from accelerating adoptions and installations to blooming employment and cratering costs. And we’ve got a friend in the IPCC to help us out with that existential necessity.

“This report requires and requests that everyone accelerate and scale up efforts towards a low carbon world and manage the risks of climate change in order to spare the planet and its people from the sobering forecasts,” Figueres warned. “Fortunately, there is a real, tangible and credible momentum for change happening across the globe and in countries, communities and corporate board rooms.”

Especially in the renewables sector, where “prime examples of co-benefits of climate action include cost gains from improved energy efficiency and renewable energy sources that immediately reduce health risks from carbon pollution by curbing greenhouse gas emissions,” the press release added.

From April through October, the IPCC will release further installments of the AR5 outlining specific options to curb greenhouse gases, and we expect it to be full of sunshine when it comes to solar. Such an emphatic international legitimation of solar and other renewables will doubtlessly spur deeper investment and installation, which is good because the next UN Climate Change conference arrives in October as well. Hopefully, it won’t be an utter dud like last year’s conference in Copenhagen, in which superpowers like United States, Canada and China instead fought about who gets what money rather than who might survive a global warming apocalypse. The smart money is on a more motivated meeting this time around, which is good because we’re running out of time.

“This report is a tale of two futures,” Figueres concluded. “One of inaction and degradation of our environment, our economies, and our social fabric. The other, to seize the moment and the opportunities for managing climate change risks and making transformational change that catalyzes more adaptive and resilient societies where new technologies and ways of living open the door to a myriad of health, prosperity and job-generating benefits. The path of tomorrow is undoubtedly determined by our choices today. We must decide which path to follow.”

This article appeared in Solar Energy

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