In the 30 years since the founding of EUROSOLAR, many extraordinary successes and advances in the proliferation of renewable energy have been made: the powerful feed-in tariffs; the diffusion of 100 % renewable buildings; communities and regions, the broad march of solar and wind into many countries’ power mixes; the revolution of national policies to embrace energy transitions and the rise of renewable energy investment – which has long become the dominant mode in annual capital expenditures in new power generation capacity worldwide.
However, due to political resistance and misinformation the nightmare of fossil fuel dependence continues to grow unabatedly, building up a more ominously looming legacy every day. The long resistance, delay and postponement by governments and industries has had dire and long predicted consequences, building up rising greenhouse gas concentrations that lie far above a climate stable level.
There is mounting evidence that global warming effects as largely triggered by fossil emissions may already be beyond the kind of control implied in standard emissions reduction and renewable energy targets. The spectre of abrupt climate change with dramatic consequences for the human species and its ability to reliably secure food supplies is now clearly manifest – and yet still largely ignored by policy makers and media outlets alike. Most IPCC declarations still propagate misleading linear climate prognoses, while the non-linear earth systems responses and exponential nature of concentrations growth have long been observed and known, over the entire duration of IPCC and UNFCCC workings.
We may have long passed the boundary of no return, as a series of climate tipping points are being reached. We witness large-scale Arctic and Siberian methane releases triggered in melting permafrost; ocean warming has gone so far that the seas will begin to expel rather than absorb heat as well as CO2; or the disappearance of polar sea ice that has long created Arctic heat waves in the wake of lowered albedo. Other powerful climate feedback mechanisms include the disruption of Asian monsoon rains, or the escalation of global forest dieback. More than 15 climate tipping point mechanisms are at risk of being triggered, or have already been activated.
As a consequence sudden climate change even beyond the scale and duration of the historically cyclical Dansgaard-Oeschger or Bond events may be impending. Like these past events, this would be a period of rapid climate shifts in the wake of gradual build-up of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere – but now unprecedentedly boosted by the nearly explosive burst of fossil fuel combustion based GHG release. Without immediate and far-reaching measures, it is not impossible that global temperatures could spike by ten degrees Celsius or more within a few decades.
This is no time for denial or resignation but for massive and unwavering action. EUROSOLAR calls for a regenerative emergency action plan, entirely unprecedented in extent and speed. These are not normal times; extraordinary measures have to be taken:
1 Massive and immediate mobilization of renewable energy systems locally, nationally and globally, to provide 100 % of thermal, electric and transport energy from renewable sources as quickly as possible;
2 Emergency ending of all coal mining and coal burning worldwide;
3 Emergency pursuit of petroleum reduction and complete replacement throughout all local, national and world economies;
4 Drastic reduction of meat in global consumption, and replacing it with a plant based diet, to end the wholesale destruction of emissions managing ecosystems by resource-intensive and inefficient meat production;
5 Extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere now oversaturated with greenhouse gas, by
- massive afforestation and wetland regeneration programs on all continents, and an immediate stop to the clearing of rainforests
- raising of organic humus content in urban parkland and agricultural soils
- replacement of industrial agriculture with organic farming practices
- replacement of organic waste combustion through composting and carbonization, to help reduce emissions and enhance biological carbon sequestration in soil
- rapid expansion of industrial-scale CO2 extraction from the atmosphere and its long-term embedding in carbon material
6 Decommissioning of all nuclear power plants and termination of new construction programs. Nuclear power delivers only a few percent in global final energy supply, while posing enormous human health, environmental, security and economic risks, even without being compromised by climate risks in safe operation and maintenance. Nuclear power absorbs an enormous amount of funding away from vital renewable energy infrastructures.
EUROSOLAR calls for the immediate embrace of these measures, in public policy, national and international action agendas, and through local and regional voluntary action.