Combating Climate Change with Renewable Energy can Drive Economic Growth, Says Global Commission
Renewable energy saw a major show of support yesterday ahead of next week’s UN summit to discuss tactics to combat climate change.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate issued a report titled “Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report” focused on revising economic policies over the next 15 years to better include renewable energy and promoting a shift from high to low carbon emissions.
The commission is an independent group commissioned by the governments of seven countries—Columbia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, and the U.K.—and headed up by former Mexican president Felipe Calderón.
Calderón made it clear that global leaders are well aware of the “serious risk” climate change poses and the misconceptions surrounding the fight to fix it.
“There is a general perception that taking responsible actions in order to tackle climate change could reduce economic growth and the creation of jobs or other goals,” he said. “Yes, it is possible to get economic growth and tackle climate change.”
While some are critical of the reports call for a carbon tax and claim that moving away from fossil fuels will kill jobs, it’s emphasized that true economic growth potential lies in the renewables sector.
“We are in a period of unprecedented expansion of energy demand,” the report reads. “Global energy use has grown by more than 50% since 1990, 134 and must keep growing to support continued development. A major wave of investment will be required to meet this demand: around $45 trillion will be required in 2015–2030 for key categories of energy infrastructure.”
The report is very clear, however, that the amount of money is not the key to proper growth: smart spending of these funds is critical.
Co-Chair of the report, Lord Nicholas Stern, drove this point home.
“The decisions we make now will determine the future of our economy and our climate,” he said. “If we choose low-carbon investment we can generate strong, high-quality growth— not just in the future, but now. But if we continue down the high-carbon route, climate change will bring severe risks to long-term prosperity.”
Making these smart decisions, despite their crucial nature, won’t be easy.
“It would be naïve to say it will all be plain sailing,” Climate Group CEO Mark Kenber said, “but there are huge economic opportunities in the transition to a low carbon economy.”
The full report can be found here.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.