Facing the global COVID-19 crisis, humanity is dealing with an unprecedented challenge. Next to severe impacts on the health system, we are confronted with the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression.
Costa Rica devised an ambitious plan to eliminate the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and promote the modernization of the country through green growth.
Societies around the world are on the verge of a profound and urgently necessary transformation in the way they produce and use energy. This shift is moving the world away from the consumption of fossil fuels toward cleaner, renewable forms of energy. The rapid deployment of renewable energy has been driven mainly by a wide range of objectives (drivers), which include advancing economic development, improving energy security, enhancing energy access and mitigating climate change. While such presumed benefits are widely cited as key drivers in political and energy debates, specific, documented evidence of such benefits remains rather limited for reasons including a lack of adequate conceptual frameworks, methodological challenges, and limited access to relevant data.
This paper identifies some of the remaining questions relating to the implications of aiming for 100% renewable energy, with the aim to provide a basis for subsequent development of a conceptual framework for future work on this topic.
In September 2015 world leaders signed off on a new global 15-year plan to tackle poverty inequality and climate change. In doing so, they pledged to ensure all people have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. Only 3 months later, in December 2015, all nations committed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by phasing out harmful emissions. For this, national governments are invited to communicate by 2020 their mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies. This essentially requires countries across the world to develop an adequate 100% Renewable Energy strategy. For developing countries with little access to energy services, this is an opportunity to leapfrog fossil fuels and use renewable energy as a tool for socio-economic development.
This is why in 2016, CAN-Tanzania, the World Future Council and Bread for the World have embarked on a 18-month project in Tanzania to develop a coherent strategy on how to implement 100% Renewable Energy (RE) as part of the country’s Sustainable Low Carbon Development (LCD) and Poverty Reduction Goals. This project builds on the previous experiences of the project partners for facilitating the deployment of renewable energy in Tanzania.
COP 21 In Paris most likely marks a turning point in international climate policy making: UNFCCC parties for the first time adopted a legally binding agreement that is universal and provides a mechanism that has the potential to build global mitigation efforts that help us to avert dangerous climate change. Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are a crucial element of the Paris Agreement. They are the foundation on which the success of global mitigation efforts will be built. Scientific assessments concluded that current INDCs are an important contribution, but still fall short of reaching the long-term goal adopted with the Paris Agreement of “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels…” by the end of the century (UNFCCC 2015a: Article 2). The available assessments vary in their results – depending on the underlying models the assessments deployed (Levin and Fransen 2015).
“The question is no longer whether the world will transition to renewable energy but rather how long the transition will take and how can the transition be carried out to maximize the benefits today and for future generations.”
With this good news, Harry Lehmann, General Director of the German Federal Environment Agency opened this year’s Kassel International Dialogue (KID) which was dedicated to developing a roadmap that guides local governments—e.g. cities and regions—in transitioning their jurisdictions to 100% renewable energy.
While humanity faces a range of interconnected transnational threats and crises in the 21st Century—including extreme poverty, hunger, pandemic disease and demographic change—climate change and the continued existence of nuclear weapons stand out as the two principal threats to the survival of humanity. On the long arc of human existence, both threats are relatively new to the scene, having only appeared over the last century. Both threaten the survival of life on earth as we know it and both are of our making.
The original report was released in November 2015, in time for the Paris Climate Change Conference. It was updated in April 2016 to reflect the outcomes of that conference as well as include updates on climate change litigation.