Climate change and COP15 are today's priority topics. While these issues touch each and every one of us, and will shape the lives of generations to come, I fear the wave of excitement in the run up to COP15 is perhaps masking where we really are.
The reality today is that the targets set - from Australia’s target of 20 percent of all electricity coming from renewables by 2020; India’s target of 15 per cent by 2020, and EU’s even more ambitious goal of 20 per cent of all energy consumption from renewables by 2020 – are unachievable unless there is a significant and immediate change in the international community’s approach to tackling climate change.
There can be no debate that we have a collective moral responsibility to leave a better world for our children; not a devastated planet stripped of its resources. But without radical action to halt climate change, even the most conservative estimates put the rise in temperature at about 3 degrees Centigrade by 2050#. That will mean the Polar ice caps will have melted away, some countries will – literally – be under water, and all parts of the world will face extreme weather events more than ever before.
Even 10 years ago, climate change was not accepted by the majority. Indeed, renewables were viewed as a ‘nice to have’ rather than as essential, environment-friendly and secure energy supplies. Today, we are in a very different place. Wind has become an important part of the world’s energy matrix, spreading to over 80 countries across all the continents of the world, and solar is continuing to expand rapidly. Indeed, at the end of last year enough wind-powered electricity was generated to power over 25 million homes.*
But for the world to achieve our clean energy and emission targets for 2020 and beyond, we need to go much further, much faster. We need more than vision, we need revolutionary action. The world’s leaders gathering in Copenhagen must act and not be bogged down by diplomatic niceties. One area of action should be financing, if COP15 results in mandates that mobilize states, banks and financial institutions to allocate at least 20 per cent of their lending portfolio to renewable energy projects – the future of the world will look very different. Another key focus should be incentivizing the world’s industries to stop polluting and to invest in clean technologies. We have the options, but we must choose to act.
COP15 is an important milestone on the long road to a sustainable, green tomorrow. It is an opportunity for all of us to come together to make enduring changes for the good of every man, woman and child on the planet. And I believe it is possible if we mobilize as people to make our voice heard; be ambassadors and educators to reshape the way we use energy and think about development. I believe our voices will be heard in Copenhagen and beyond, and this is the foundation of change.
# Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report
* American Wind Energy Association, (http://awea.org/faq/wwt_basics.html)
** RENEWABLES 2007 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT (http://www.ren21.net/pdf/RE2007_Global_Status_Report.pdf)