Renewable Energy Spending Must Increase Tenfold, Says UN

A UN report has warned that the UK must invest ten times more into renewable energy sources within the next 15 years, if climate change and global warming are to be kept under control. Other countries with higher-than-average carbon emissions would also need to increase their spending on a similar scale.

The report, released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that global investments into green energy need to rise from an existing level of 0.4% of GDP (£5.8 billion for the UK) to up to 4% (£58 billion) of GDP by 2030. Further increases of up to 6% of GDP by 2050 and 12% by 2100 would also be required to achieve a 66% chance of capping global warming at 2oC from pre-industrial levels – a figure that’s considered sustainable.

Without this massive increase in spending, the UN report warns that various ‘tipping points’ for climate change could be crossed in the coming decades, with global temperatures rising by as much as 4.8oC  by 2100.

To avoid this, worldwide spending on fossil fuels would also need to decline by £18 billion a year until 2030, whilst an extra £90 billion a year is poured into the green energy industry. The contribution of renewable energy sources to the generation mix would need to grow from 17% in 2010 to 50% in 2050 if climate change is to be controlled in the longer term.

Some critics are dismissing the report, claiming that the UK already spends too much on cutting carbon emissions and should be focusing more on coping with the impacts of climate change. However, the Department for Energy and Climate Change has said that investments into renewable technologies are ‘more than offset’ by the resulting savings, with current spending levels of £5.8 billion a year leading to long term savings of £45 billion.

And the London School of Economics was quick to point out the other benefits of spending more on green energy, commenting that: ‘Estimates of the costs of cutting greenhouse gases do not include the economic benefits…as well as additional gains, such as a reduction in local air pollution. The estimates…should be thought of as investments, most of which will be made by private companies, rather than the Government, and will generate jobs and growth.’

Wilding says: This UN report is a timely reminder that we need to take action now to prevent climate change and global warming spiralling out of control. As the LSE says, spending more on renewable technologies isn’t just about cutting carbon emissions – it will bring a wealth of economic and environmental benefits, too.

Sources: Daily Mail and Blue & Green Tomorrow