September 7, 2011
The Union of Concerned Scientists hosted a webinar briefing today on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. The IPCC assembled 120 experts from around the world to compile this scientific assessment of the potential of renewable energy sources to mitigate climate change. The webinar featured two of the report's lead authors: CIERP Director William Moomaw, as well as Ryan Wiser, Ph.D., staff scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Download the webinar audio here.
View the slides here.
On May 9th, the world’s governments approved the Summary for Policy Makers, making this condensed version of the report the accepted basis for planning energy policies, investment and infrastructure for national and regional governments as well as for U.N. agencies and international organizations such as the World Bank.
The Special Report on Renewable Energy and Climate Mitigation is impressive in its scope: totaling 900 pages in length, the report analyzes more than 160 scenarios with the more optimistic ones suggesting that almost 80% of the world’s energy supply could come from renewable sources by 2050.
According to Dr. Stephan Singer, Director Global Energy Policy for WWF International, “The IPCC and governments of the world signal loud and clear: fossil fuels and nuclear are no real alternatives to renewables.” The report also concludes that the technical potential of renewable energies is 20 times greater than what global demand for energy is projected to be in 2050.
Illustrating the feasibility of renewable energy, it also sheds light on the true cost of fossil fuel and nuclear energy when taking into account all the hidden costs of conventional energy, including health risks, air and water pollution, global warming emissions, and security.
It documents a large range of other advantages that clean renewables can provide to countries around the world, including health and security supply benefits, new job and technology opportunities for all countries, and most notably, the potential to provide clean and affordable energy to more than two billion people in parts of the developing world that have either no or only intermittent access.
Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Group III, pointed out some of the benefits and challenges that findings have revealed. “With consistent climate and energy policy support, renewable energy sources can contribute substantially to human well-being by sustainably supplying energy and stabilizing the climate,” Edenhofer said. “However, the substantial increase of renewables is technically and politically very challenging” he added.