July 16th, 2011
In 2009, the International Student Energy Summit, or ISES, was formed, and held its first summit in the University of Calgary. At first although it was not very popular, the ISES quickly grew in reputation and also in significance towards the businesses and corporations in which they hope to affect and change. The ISES in 2009 is the start of a significant trend in which students begin to take up their roles and put their focus into attacking and attempting to find a solution to the ever increasing danger of the world’s energy crisis. Their three main pillars of “Markets and Regulations, Global Energy Dynamics, and Technology and Innovation” completely encompass their commitment towards the political, social, and economic aspects of today’s world. Political tensions, energy scarcity and environmental damage are just some of the consequences that this crisis is affecting the world, and the goal of the ISES in which allows it to become increasingly important is to encourage and provoke students to take up their responsibilities in changing the energy landscape of the globe and providing a more efficient and sustainable energy system.
Green educational promotions led by student bodies are becoming more and more influential in our world today because of the possibilities and potential that they embody. The ISES provides a good blueprint and acts as a role model for other green student led institutions to rise up and take initiative in providing a more sustainable energy system and ease environmental pressures and problems. As the former CEO of BC Hydro Bob Elton states, “When we shape our energy future we shape the world.” ISES is an important event because young people have the largest stake in that future, and the sooner they are equipped to help build it, the better for all of us.”
The reason why businesses have taken such a strong interest in the ISES is the same reason why it is so significant, its goal and progress for a more sustainable energy system will eventually lead to more profitable businesses, stronger economies, safer communities and healthier people. Students now are the driving labor force of tomorrow and with innovative ideas for a more sustainable energy system instilled in their minds can go a long way for a company’s interests, especially in areas such as cost reduction, environmental and societal image, as well as making more methods for the company to succeed and create profit. In the upcoming Summit occurring on June 9, 2011 at the UBC campus, many businesses and corporations have already flocked to take part. Corporations such as BC Hydro and Terasen Gas have confirmed their attendance and commitment to the summit. Corporations can no longer ignore the impact and significance of students’ potential and creativity.
The ISES is not only an event where businesses and corporations can come see the potentiality of students that they are interested to give the reins to for the leaderships of the future, but it is also a place of discussion forum, a place where ideas can be exchanged. This is what makes the ISES such an essential imperative for the world, and not only as a slightly meaningful event. Many show their intentions of creating a more ideal energy system and usage, but few pursue it. The ISES shows the intentions of people for an ideal world and manifests them into actions and ideas that corporations can do for their self benefit. Discussions about technology, markets, and energy dynamics between experts and students will not only provide an exchange of ideas for a more sustainable energy future, it also outlines problems within the current system.
The students who began and organized the memorable and inaugural summit in Calgary in 2009 had no idea their impact would be this big, but now in 2011 the coming summit has not only forced corporations in Vancouver to immediately voice their commitment, but it has stirred up interest from globally recognized institutions such as GLOBE, Venture Capital and Nexen Energy. CEOs and executives can no longer afford not to take notice of such a big event, for the sake of their corporations as well as the world, and if the ISES’ idealistic future continues to grab the attentions of corporate heads, not only will provide a suitable blueprint for other modern student led green promotions to follow, they inevitably will change the landscape of energy usage and provide a glimmer of the ideal energy system on the world’s horizon.
By Jeff Wong
July 16th, 2011
In a world in which the green industry is just beginning to blossom we must inadvertently recognize the role of the media in this revolution. Living within the new talk of organic options and sustainability, we must realize we have reached this point as a result of how ‘green’ has been pitched to us on televisions, radios, newspapers and the multitude of other outlets. Yet as we seek to progress past these baby steps of the green revolution it is worth taking time to look into ways in which mass media currently underachieves in its drives to thrust forward the green industry of the twenty-first century.
Writer of Race and the New Green Media: Lessons from Environmental History, David Soll chronicles the depth of green related media beyond the Western World. He takes note of a recent trip to China undertaken by an investigative journalist and makes particular point of a moment when she comes across a large billboard targeting green consumerism. The billboard, that of an American company, advertises a happy, healthy photo of a green couple using a service oriented with saving the planet. Interestingly, the two people are portrayed as a mid-thirties white couple. The message seems to suggest that these two Caucasian people are doing their part for the planet by selecting this service – and you should too. Beyond the naked eye the advertisement, like so many others, demonstrates shortcomings with regards to effectively advancing a total green culture. David Soll asks, “Where were the racially balanced ads?” (Soll, 261). Why portray a white couple in China? “By subtly and not so subtly coding environmental issues, particularly green consumption and business, as white, America’s newspapers, magazines, and television stations undermine the development of the broad, multiracial constituency required for progressive environmental action” (Soll, 261).
Where climate change and the need to ‘green’ up our lives is a collective action problem, it is worth pointing out that media must target the multi-culture that forms this collective. As long as advertisements such as that aforementioned target narrow racial categories, any hope to truly inspire a global collective action – hence solving the truly global problem that is climate change – will remain distant.
Unfortunately the billboard exemplified in China highlights a second, arguably more significant problem. It has become no surprise that consumerism is ingrained in almost all of our media outlets. The billboard in China shows one of many “green products [and services that] have inundated the marketplace”, writes Dian Dobin in Greenwashing Harms Entire Movement. However, seeing shouldn’t always equate to believing. In an article for New Zealand Marketing Magazine Vicki Jayne notes how easy it is for consumers to quickly read the green tag on a product, purchase it and feel that he or she is now doing a part in curtailing environmental degradation. Media of green, above all else, risks a general public naivety. Jayne recognizes the consumer that nonchalantly “dons [a] new “eco-friendly” bamboo T-shirt only to discover that while the resource is renewable, good forest is being felled to grow more of it and it emerged from a manufacturing process positively awash with poisons”. Information is key and much of green-oriented media fails to accurately provide it.
In a world in which a truly global green industry is the requirement media is undoubtedly playing a role in spreading the new ideology. With it comes the question of effectiveness. It is obvious that taking the next step requires a media that broadens its approach and targets the global citizen. There is also a necessity that the information given to consumers and the likes are accurate and unbiased. Perhaps the first step in reform is to provide consumers with total information so that they are not given false perceptions. Media must account for its great power and great responsibility. It must tell us why what I am about to purchase is truly green and not merely how one aspect of it is green. It must have eco-credibility.
By Jason Staeck, an intern from UBC
July 16th, 2011
The powers of the media are fast becoming recognized in this electronic day and age. Media is and will be the single most powerful factor in the shaping of our world in the coming century. Fast becoming the centre of all debates is Climate Change – and the debate will only heat up as the effects of global warming are further realized. Geographer Jacquelin Burgess displayed a strong interest in media’s role in our focus on the environment by focusing on media’s ability to dictate life. The surge in ‘green’ related articles in the past decade coupled with ‘green’ quickly taking its place in the thematic centre of our lives quickly reinforces her arguments. Recognizing the centrality of media is not my focus however. Rather, I seek to highlight some of the challenges that we have come across in our 21st century struggle towards a greener industry and pin-point areas in which media can, and should, dictate so as to propel us beyond the baby steps in our battle against devastating climate change.
To date media has shown a profound ability to induce both a sense of urgency in the movement to prevent a climatic disaster and a sense of pride in actions that take strides towards enabling a greener future. A focus on both is necessary, but what we haven’t seen enough is a healthy medium. During any challenging period it is crucial to recognize the risks of inaction and the benefits of action but it is equally necessary to acknowledge both sides of the equation without polarizing a point of view. When media focuses on the impending doom of climate change, as it did more prominently towards the turn of the century, it inadvertently creates a feeling of helplessness and despair. The dangers of such are inaction, because efforts towards change are accompanied by half-hearted hope. On the other hand, when media overemphasizes positive change towards a greener future, more prominent in recent times, it again risks inaction. Why? When a general public is regularly faced with article snippets and advertisements that highlight greener initiatives there is the great risk that the public sees powerful action taking place at unprecedented levels, when in fact it is not, and this risks undermining further advancements towards greener initiatives amongst both individuals and larger organizations.
To further emphasize my point, take notice of the “Green Issues” sections of several high key magazines. Many articles like to focus on the manner in which individuals and corporations are taking enormous steps towards providing a cleaner and greener environment. I do not advocate against this. Rather I point out that these green initiatives are still by and large rare and should not be taken as a symbol that all is now green. With such positive reviews such media snippets can easily lead to a false interpretation of the level of commitment towards the green movement. There is a real risk that today’s media in all its scopes are portraying a world fast being immersed in green, whether illustrating standout individuals, organic options or greener methods of production. It is important that the media continue to warn as much as praise. Recognizing this and realizing media’s potential to affect such perceptions is key to taking the next big step towards achieving a truly greener industry.
By Jason Staeck
July 16th, 2011
This is the first in a series of articles detailing alternative methods of urban transportation, covering walking, cycling, and public transportation.
Transportation is important for creating sustainable cities in the future. Currently, North American cities are tasked with the immense challenge of rebuilding and retrofitting in order to shift towards a model of sustainable transportation. In the context of the current trend of rapid global urbanization and climate change, it will be infeasible to continue to rely on conventional, automobile dependent modes of transport. The model of auto-dependent urban planning, or Motordom, that began in the late 19th century is predicated on one fact: the provision of cheap, bountiful energy. However, the impending energy crisis and reality of peak oil will mean the painful end to the Motordom era whether we like it or not.
Addressing auto-dependent urban planning and investing in green transportation will also create jobs and stimulate economic growth. A report published in February by Smart Growth America revealed that more jobs were created in states that invested in public transportation projects and existing road and bridges maintenance and repair projects than states who built new roads and bridges. For example, funds provided by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 saw spending in public transportation projects producing 70% more jobs per dollar than road projects. “Repair and maintenance and public transportation projects create more jobs because they are more labor intensive and they get money into the economy faster,” according to the report. Transportation investment means putting people to work and capital infrastructure improvements that benefit cities.
But certain principles must be adopted as we move towards a post-Motordom future, lest we repeat the same mistakes of the past. What can we do? As the Danish architect Jan Gehl argues, sustainable cities are people-friendly cities. And in turn, people-friendly cities are lively, safe, sustainable, and healthy. By strengthening urban public transportation and creating walkable cities, sustainable cities can be possible and meet desired social, cultural, economic, and health goals. This involves a careful, well thought out process that integrates contemporary understanding of land use and transportation planning, proper regulation and pricing, and technological innovation carried out by state and private actors. But political will and change in behaviour must follow. The status quo is pervasive–we cannot change unless there is a will.
In return, we will see an urban reality that minimizes the consumption of valuable agricultural land, reduce GHG emissions and noise, decrease automobile-related fatalities, address social inequality by reducing automobile dependency, build healthy and lively communities through cycling, walking, and inter-social encounters, and is economically viable. This must be the future.
By Victor Ngo
January 22nd, 2011
By Victor Douglas Ngo, Green Collar Association Staff Writer
The waste we generate today is a pervasive and inconvenient fact found in the human and natural landscape. As we move towards a more sustainable and integrated economy, we need to consider the effects of achieving sustainability through manufacturing new, more efficient cities, buildings, and electronics. Vast amounts of energy is consumed and waste produced through the production of the new and the destruction of the old. A shift towards the preservation, retrofit, and reuse of the old will offer new insights in minimizing our impact on the environment.
Acknowledgement must be given to architect Carl Elefante for coining the phrase: “The greenest building is…one that is already built.” It provides a guiding principle that the green economy can readily adopt under various contexts. Elefante advocates for the preservation of existing buildings; simply building our way to sustainability does not present itself with a feasible and economically sound solution. While LEED and the Living Building Challenge hold its place in green building technology, it fails to address the performance of the vast existing housing stock built since the 1920s. The fact is they account for a great majority of building carbon emissions. Improving efficiency can be accomplished through proper envelope insulation and improved windows, and emerging technologies such as solar water heating. According to the 2008 Pocantico Proclamation on Sustainability and Historic Preservation, it urges that the value of building reuse is recognized among policymakers and that we must capitalize on the potential of the green economy by reinvesting in our existing built economy.
In a similar vein, Ellen Dunham-Jones makes the argument of retrofitting our suburbs in order to make them more walkable, transit-friendly, livable and ultimately more sustainable. Suburbia has a long history tied to pop culture and is bound up by notions of the American Dream and as a “place for the kids.” The reality is that the suburban ideal does not match reality. The single-use, low density, and sprawling character is proving to be a blight on the environment. Suburbs generate more GHG emissions than their urban counterparts due to automobile dependency. But we can begin to rethink and redefine what the contemporary suburb can look and function like. Through planning strategies such as introducing mixed usage, density, and green spaces, developing over parking lots, restoring local ecology, and establishing partnerships with industry to provide communities with green technology, the idea of a sustainable suburb can begin to take shape.
Cities are also playing an important role by introducing new waste management systems that divert waste through organic collection programs. Kitchen waste accounts for a large portion of landfills, creating harmful greenhouse gases such as methane. The collection of organic waste diverts it from the landfills, meaning it saves valuable landfill space and reduce emissions generated at the landfill and from the associated transportation of waste. Garbage needs to be seen as a valuable commodity. For example, garbage can be used to create compost and fuel. Compost can replace commercial fertilizers, which may contain harmful chemicals that can damage soil and pollute local water sources during runoff. Organic waste can be processed into carbon neutral biofuel, where it would be used in current gasoline- and diesel-type internal combustion engines.
In concert with proper waste management, electronics recycling has been growing in consumer awareness. In a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report it was noted that in 2008, the U.S. generated 3.16 million tons of e-waste, with only 430,000 tons being recycled. In 2006, the United Nations stated that 20 to 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated on a worldwide basis. E-waste accounts for large percentage of toxic waste in landfills. However, organizations such as Free Geek dispose of equipment in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner and provide computer technology and training to local communities. Through proper management of consumer electronics, efforts of Free Geek and other organization and stimulate economic development through job creation and importantly, prevents further waste from ending up in landfills.
Championing these four examples leads us to acknowledge that achieving sustainability must come with a recognition of the past. Re-approaching our values of what old is in terms of sustainability can prove to be a powerful instrument. Leveraging our current scientific understanding of what it means to be green and applying principles of preservation and reuse to our built environment and waste management will be of tremendous benefit.
January 5th, 2011
By Ryan LaPlante, Special to Green Collar Association
The last 700 Mountain Gorillas reside in a series of parks in the Virunga volcano range, overlapping the borders of three countries in Central Africa. In the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo, they are hunted by poachers who sell their body parts to collectors; infants are sold alive to zoos and researchers. In neighbouring Rwanda, things aren’t so grim; gorillas form the lynchpin of a lucrative tourist industry, and poachers there face harsh penalties.
Notice that the Congolese poachers and the Rwandans are both following the business model that makes sense in their respective contexts. In Rwanda, the government steps in to ensure that gorillas are managed responsibly as a common resource, making it profitable to preserve them. In the DRC, there is no government oversight; if one poacher doesn’t kill a gorilla, another poacher will (and take home the profits). The plight of the mountain gorilla serves as a useful analogy to a debate that is taking place in environmental economics today.
Many people assume that, like the poachers, corporations will ignore the environmental impact of their actions in favor of maximizing short-term profits. This would seem to make a strong case for government intervention, in order to preserve our natural capital for the long-term benefit of society. However, an emerging trend shows that corporations can be motivated to self-regulate. And, as it turns out, self-regulation has several advantages, as well as disadvantages, when compared to government regulation.
Before we explore these differences, let’s clarify our terms. Self-regulation builds upon corporate voluntarism, which is when a single firm voluntarily adopts practices like eco-certification, environmental auditing, and developing systems that improve environmental efficiency and reduce end-waste. Self-regulation means the same thing, but occurs across an entire industry, with firms agreeing to establish or adopt a common standard or practice; compliance is still voluntary. Government regulation, of course, means mandatory standards or obligations and can include penalties for failing to comply.
So why would firms voluntarily expend resources to reduce their environmental impact, if their primary goal is to increase shareholder wealth? One answer is the growing concept of corporate responsibility. We don’t have to look far today to find examples of corporations doing good; odds are good that your local supermarket has recently switched to biodegradable plastic bags. This reflects a kind of social and environmental awareness that would have been hard to imagine just a couple of decades ago. Many people remain skeptical, however, and corporations have been accused of using environmental good deeds to greenwash their public profile while they cut corners elsewhere. It’s true that many shareholders today are gaining an environmental conscience, but the mandate of CEO’s and boards of directors remains maximizing profits (and their jobs depend on it!).
Perhaps a more credible explanation is that self-regulation can actually be profitable. For example, recycling internal waste can cut down on input costs. Corporations can also get a leg up over competition by appealing to ethical-minded consumers; unfortunately, this advantage can only be held by a fraction of a particular industry at one time. The flip side of this is risk management; a reputation that takes years to build can be destroyed overnight by an environmental blunder, as we saw in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.
But the biggest motivator by far for industries that self-regulate is the desire to forestall government regulation. This is sort of like a plea-bargain, where the guilty party gets a lighter sentence in exchange for pleading guilty and sparing the court time and resources. In the environmental scenario, the government saves considerable resources by allowing firms to self-regulate; it avoids the cost of information gathering and verification of compliance. Governments also get to put off the challenge of passing controversial legislation. In return, the government may push back deadlines for mandatory regulations, or it may compromise on targets.
Above all, firms prefer self-regulation to the government version because it means that compliance is voluntary. While one-size-fits-all government regulations hit some firms much harder than others, voluntary targets mean that each firm can decide when and where to reduce based on information about its own costs. The firms that have the lowest abatement costs will reduce pollution the most. This flexibility minimizes the industry’s overall cost of compliance, making self-regulation the distinct lesser of two evils – for corporations, and for the consumers who ultimately absorb these costs.
Of course, self-regulation comes with a few caveats. Corporations have every incentive to exaggerate the effectiveness of voluntary regimes, and there is no way to validify their claims. In fact, there is a strong possibility that improvements under a voluntary regime are circumstantial; firms that comply with the standards might have improved their resource efficiency anyways, for cost or image related reasons. Firms that have already planned improvements are more likely to sign on to a voluntary program than those that haven’t, which tends to further distort results. Voluntary targets are usually lower than regulated ones, and the more government uses the threat of regulation to encourage voluntary initiatives, the less potent a threat it becomes.
Not only do government regulations have more predictable results, but new types of regulations have been designed to achieve many of the advantages of voluntary ones. Market based regulations like carbon taxes or emission permit trading regimes – also known as cap-and-trade – allow firms a similar flexibility in meeting targets according to their individual costs. Governments can recover some of the costs of verification by selling permits or relying on firms to police each other. Market based regulations have an additional advantage: they make it profitable for firms to make ongoing reductions, rather than stopping once they reach a target. Designed properly, government regulations can offer the best of both worlds. Designed improperly, they can be worse than no regulations at all!
Self-regulation certainly has its place, if only as a prelude to mandatory targets. Voluntary measures taken by big firms like Apple, Starbucks, or Nike can trickle down their entire global supply line, giving them broader reach than regulations could ever have. Pioneerism by these leaders often paves the way for an entire industry, once risks are reduced and new techniques are streamlined. But it would be naïve to simply trust the jungle to the poachers – or at least, premature. Mandatory reductions will be a necessary part of our overall environmental strategy, at least until corporations fully accept the mantra: what’s good for the gorillas is good for business.
July 25th, 2010
The government of Canada is to invest $400 million as the 2010 portion of Canada’s financing promised by developed countries under the Copenhagen Accord.
“This is an important announcement for Canada and for the global community,” said Minister Prentice. “Through this investment, we are working to help developing countries reduce their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.”
Under the Copenhagen Accord, developed countries committed to provide fast-start financing approaching US$ 30 billion for 2010-2012 that would help the poorest and most vulnerable countries adapt to the effects of climate change, including clean energy development and delivery, efforts to address deforestation and to enhance sustainable agriculture.
Canada’s contribution is consistent with our traditional share of developed country donor pledges in the context of multilateral international assistance efforts- approximately 4%.
Also announced this week, the federal government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector by moving forward with regulations on coal-fired electricity generation.
Thirteen per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from coal-fired electricity generation units. The proposed regulations will apply a stringent performance standard to new coal-fired electricity generation units and those coal-fired units that have reached the end of their economic life.
This policy, coupled with the commitments of the provinces, and companies who have committed to coal closures, will reduce emissions by about 15 megaton’s (Mt). This is equivalent to taking about 3.2 million vehicles off the roads.
By Janaina Lins our intern from Brasil
July 25th, 2010
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NTREE) reported that the world’s supply of freshwater is limited and finite. While Canada is blessed with an abundance of freshwater, an expected increase in the development of the natural resource sectors begs the question of whether our country has enough to support economic growth while also maintaining the health of our ecosystems.
The NTREE, that examines the sustainability of Canada’s water supply and its use by the nation’s major resource sectors, have a new report which reviews water use by agriculture, forest, mining, electricity and oil and gas sectors. It says that the time is now for Canadian policy makers, businesses and environmental groups to look at ways to modernize outdated and inadequate water management practices.
Some of the report’s conclusion:
- Data on precise water use and access to such data is limited, making it difficult to know the national supply of water and the amounts being used.
- There is an overall lack of capacity and expertise across the country to effectively manage water resources.
- The impacts of climate change are expected to transform the way Canadians need to manage water resources.
“Governance at a national level is not currently positioned to respond to expected increasing pressure on our water resources”, says the report’s executive summary. “This is largely due to jurisdictional complexity, inconsistent approaches across the country, policy fragmentation, a lack of resources, and insufficient technical, scientific, and policy capacity.”
Growth in the natural resource sectors is expected to climb by between 50 and 65 per cent by 2030. The report calls for a national framework to deal with the issues and expected pressures outlined in the report.
NRTEE President and Chief Executive Officer David McLaughlin said Canada needs to get a better handle on the quantity of water being used and how much is needed in the future.
By Janaina Lins our intern from Brasil
July 25th, 2010
The price of eco-friendly products, green technology and alternative energy sources, can, in the short-term, make going green can seem like a costly endeavour for many businesses, workers, and individuals; especially in today’s economic context. Though non-green products may apear cheaper at the checkout stand we often fail to realize the external costs of these products such as resource extraction, production, and transportation. So why should we go green and what is there to gain? Well, because economic sustainability so heavily relies upon resources extracted from the Earth, going green holds the key to finding a suitable way of supporting our economy in the long term.
The University of California estimated that the state could gain as many as 89,000 new jobs and have an annual economic benefit of up to $74 billion by pursuing its climate action goals. If similar goals were realized in Canada, they could help ensure long-term economic health and stability as well as the creation of many jobs. Going green would help cities, in terms of community planning and land use, to deal with issues such as urban sprawl and local food security. Ecotourism, the responsible travel to natural areas, which conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people, is a prime opportunity to increase the travel & tourism industry, which is responsible for 230 million jobs and over 10% of the gross domestic product worldwide. Greening our cities would create a great opportunity to display leadership in environmental action, while attracting investment and increasing opportunity.
Businesses can find plenty of reasons to go green and actually increase productivity and profit. By intensifying production processes, companies can reduce their environmental impacts while simultaneously lowering the costs of inputs and waste disposal. Revenues can be improved through green marketing, the sale of waste products, and outsourcing a firm’s environmental expertise. Green technology may appear expensive upfront, but soon repay all costs and remain sustainable in the long run. Companies compete on price and quality and are now competing more on the environmental issues, as well. Competitive advantage can be gained through environmental responsibility creating a positive image to the public, boosting consumer confidence, and establishing good working relationships and foundations. Government incentives and tax exemptions, like the LiveSmart BC program, can save businesses on taxes and receive up to $50,000 in rebates. Currently the B.C. environmental technology industry is worth $1.9 billion and employs about 18,000 people. The green collar sector is constantly creating new jobs and increasing market opportunity.
The workforce may also benefit by educating themselves about green practices, which converts to transferable skills and working knowledge in a changing economy. Green workspaces create healthier and better working conditions and increased productivity. Case studies have shown that people working in well-designed energy-efficient buildings measure labor productivity gains of 6-16%.
It is imperative that businesses and groups start acting with a green mindset; not only is going green financially feasible but the benefits could be the lifeline to a successful business, sustainable economy and the future health of the planet, which just makes sense.
By Green Collar Association Researchers Dr. Michael O. Dayan and Kyle Tsang
June 16th, 2010
Technologies available today, and those expected to become competitive over the next decade, will permit a rapid decarbonization of the global energy economy, according to a report by the World Watch Institute.
New renewable energy technologies, combined with a broad suite of energy-efficiency advances, will allow global energy needs to be met without fossil fuels and by adding only minimally to the cost of energy services.
The world is now in the early stages of an energy revolution that over the next few decades could be as momentous as the emergence of oiland electricity-based economies a century ago. Double-digit market growth, annual capital flows of more than $100 billion, sharp declines in technology costs, and rapid progress in the sophistication and effectiveness of government policies all herald a promising new energy era.
Advanced automotive, electronics, and buildings systems will allow a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, at negative costs once the savings in energy bills is accounted for. The savings from these measures can effectively pay for a significant portion of the additional cost of advanced renewable energy technologies to replace fossil fuels, including wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy.
Resource estimates indicate that renewable energy is more abundant than all of the fossil fuels combined, and that well before mid-century it will be possible to run most national electricity systems with minimal fossil fuels and only 10 percent of the carbon emissions they produce today.
Recent climate simulations conclude that CO2 emissions will need to peak within the next decade and decline by at least 50 to 80 percent by 2050. This challenge will be greatly complicated by the fact that China, India, and other developing countries are now rapidly developing modern energy systems.
The only chance of slowing the buildup of CO2 concentrations soon enough to avoid catastrophic climate change that could take centuries to reverse is to transform the energy economies of industrial and developing countries almost simultaneously.
Improved technology and high energy prices have created an extraordinarily favorable market for new energy systems over the past few years. But reaching a true economic tipping point will require innovative public policies and strong political leadership.
By Janaina Lins our intern from Brasil