There’s a big prize for those who turn to renewables

By Brian Bentley

BBC News, London

Those who cast their votes for solar power say it’s cheaper than nuclear Power is great, but some people are not that interested in the light at the end of the tunnel. Greenpeace has successfully campaigned for governments to shift funding towards renewables A report by the green lobbying group the International Renewable Energy Agency has highlighted a surprising number of countries with a long-term view of their energy future. It says that not only is nuclear energy relatively expensive, and certainly expensive compared to wind and solar power, but the biggest winners from the switch to renewable energies are not at all green. Rather they are the wealthiest and most powerful, such as the United States and some European countries. Some have even planned to tax the fossil fuel industry to help support their renewable counterparts. The Irena report highlights that not only are some governments moving towards more “green” forms of energy, many are also setting targets to reduce emissions. In the US, for example, President Barack Obama set his sights on reducing the country’s carbon emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. HISDETECTIONS

All 21 Risks to Life, Health and the Environment. The first two risks examined are Changes in Environmental Conditions or Changes in Population. The third is Increasing Use of Natural Disasters and Pandemics.

What does this mean for you? The Irena report says there are other countries which are making moves towards a greener energy future. Finland, for example, has set itself an overall target to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. And Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore too are implementing similar strategies to become greener and reduce their carbon footprint. But while the countries to look out for now may be planning to cut their emissions by increasing wind and solar power, the Irena report acknowledges that some of the countries that are gaining in power in terms of renewable energies are the ones which are not so environmentally conscious. Indonesia, for example, is introducing a renewable energy law and is exploring ways to meet the emerging requirement for energy from alternative sources. More new companies are also planning to invest in the clean energy sector. But does the investment really make sense for these countries? The Irena report says the people who will benefit will not necessarily be the the ones who will buy the electrical equipment and the utility poles to replace coal plants. Rather it says many of those who will benefit will be farmers who receive subsidies for their crops which are produced in order to make up the difference between what is produced from energy and that from fossil fuels. Farmers claim they benefit by allowing the energy industry to extract the fossil fuels needed to produce the crops. While the government is said to benefit from the energy dividend paid by investors, it also argues it is avoiding potential CO2 emissions from some of the electricity consumed. There is also the argument that within countries the advantages of having renewable energy will not necessarily benefit the poorer regions of the world who are already trying to cope with the effects of global warming. These are also the regions which some governments have chosen to prioritise, such as Africa where some countries even plan to tax the fossil fuel industry. The Irena report calls on governments to also consider the wider health and environmental impacts of spending their money on renewable energy projects. We know that money spent on renewable energy comes at a price, and as the world’s population grows, the cost of generating energy for the poorest countries will only increase. Oil, gas and coal now provide two-thirds of the world’s energy supply

BBC News, London And with the additional issue of the cost of the gases pumped into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, using renewables seems not just sensible, but also likely to prove a money-spinner. The Irena report concludes that the best bet for nations that want to reduce emissions of CO2, the warming effect of which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said will make the world’s poor more vulnerable to extreme weather, but who are uninterested in investing in nuclear power, is that they should aim for 30% of their power to come from renewables. The so-called ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ – where people are more dependent on power provided by solar and wind energy – is an emerging prospect and while it may not give wealthy countries the sense of achievement that their political ambitions will provide, it could save the planet from an irrevocable global warming catastrophe. How much do you think we will cut our CO2 emissions by 2050? Share your thoughts below.

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