A clean energy future starts now!
3 February 2011
Our new Energy Report confirms that all the world’s energy needs could be provided cleanly, sustainably and economically by the year 2050. Renewable energy is the way ahead. Fossil fuels like oil and coal could become relics of the past. And the sooner we start planning for that cleaner, greener world, the sooner it can be a reality.
The new Energy Report we’ve launched today shows that turning the world’s energy supplies green is not only possible, it’s absolutely essential.
Our report makes it clear that by 2050 the world’s power, transport, industrial and domestic energy needs could potentially be met entirely from renewable sources.
And that won’t just be good for energy security, it will also cut environmental pollution and, crucially, reduce the catastrophic impacts of climate change. A 100% renewable energy future would mean carbon emissions from energy dropping by over 80% worldwide by 2050.
The drive for renewable power must include the development of new international grids – for instance better electricity grid connections between the UK and Europe. ‘Smart’ grids are also needed to help balance energy demand with supply.
Our Energy Report also calls for a big global effort to seriously improve the energy efficiency of our economies. To achieve a 100% renewable energy future, we must do more with less energy – under the report’s scenario total global energy demand will actually be at least 15% lower in 2050 than in 2005, thanks to new technologies. And that’s despite the predicted increases in population, industrial output and travel, including electric vehicles.
To provide reliable, affordable and clean energy on the scale required will need a global effort – similar to the response to the world financial crisis. The financial benefits of lower energy costs will be huge, with global savings of around €4 trillion by 2050. And that doesn’t take into account avoided costs associated with climate change, or the additional benefits of renewable energy such as improved health, and increases in green jobs.
Right now, we need the UK government to encourage substantial upfront investments and ambitious energy savings. The current reform of the electricity market is the perfect chance to deliver a nearly carbon-free power sector and strongly promote sustainable low-carbon technologies.
Before pouring billions into creating a new generation of nuclear or gas power stations, we need to ask whether that money would be better invested in other, more sustainable energy technologies – especially if those other technologies create lots of new UK jobs.
As WWF’s director general, Jim Leape, sums it up: “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… But we must start now.”
Read the full report (PDF 14MB)
Read our recommendations for the UK