A report released yesterday by international conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said the world could be powered with renewable energy by 2050.
The Energy Report compiled by the NGO took two years to prepare and takes a global view of the issue and also includes transportation in the calculations.
“If we continue to rely on fossil fuels, we face a future of increasing anxieties over energy costs, energy security and climate change impacts,” said Jim Leape, WWF’s Director General. “We are offering an alternative scenario – far more promising and entirely achievable.”
The report was put together in collaboration with energy consultancy Ecofys while graphics were prepared by OMA. WWF provided the analysis and takes a rather positive view of the future. It shows that by 2050 power, transport, industrial and domestic energy needs could be met with only isolated residual uses of fossil and nuclear fuels. This migration to renewable fuels would reduce “anxieties over energy security, pollution and not least, catastrophic climate change”, it says.
“The Energy Report shows that in four decades we can have a world of vibrant economies and societies powered entirely by clean, cheap and renewable energy and with a vastly improved quality of life”, Leape said. “It is more than a scenario – it’s a call for action. We can achieve a cleaner, renewable future, but we must start now.”
Under the Ecofys scenario, energy efficiency would be key and demand would be 15 percent lower than in 2005, despite increases in population, industrial output, freight and travel. The world would not be relying on coal or nuclear fuels any longer while biofuel and hydroelectricity would be tightly regulated through international agreements.
Despite the apparent utopianism of the future envisioned by the report, Ecofys director Kes van der Leun says no “extravagant assumptions” were made. “This is a moderate estimate of the renewable energy future we could enjoy by 2050″, he says.
The shift to renewable energy would require a global effort and the report compares it to the response to the financial crisis. But it estimates that new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2040 and savings over a “Business-As-Usual” scenario would results in savings of €4 trillion (US$5.5 trillion) from lower energy costs alone by 2050.
Add to that the avoidance of energy security conflicts, dirty spills and supply disruptions that would be the consequence of scarcer fossil fuels and environmentally challenged areas.
Another key benefit would be a massive reduction in emissions from the energy sectors, or 80 percent by 2050, which would contribute towards achieving a less than two degree Celsius threshold, which is identified as the point when climate change would be catastrophic.
“We will live differently, but we will live well,” said Leape. “We must provide energy for all without imperiling our planet, and this report shows that we can.”
Article by Antonio Pasolini, appearing courtesy Justmeans.