The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report has concluded that wide scale climate change mitigation could be much more affordable than previously believed. The report, which was produced by 1,250 experts from around the world and approved by 194 governments, calculated that a massive global transition to clean renewable energy would take only 0.06% off current annual economic growth rates of 1.3 – 3%.
These findings refute the widely held conviction, amongst certain groups, that a rapid move away from fossil fuels to large-scale renewable energy investment would severely harm global economic growth. It is now clear that this is not the case. Furthermore, the IPCC’s findings were made without taking into account the economic benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, such as reduced pollution and increased energy security.
These positive results should not, however, encourage complacency. The matter remains urgent. EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard was quoted in the Guardian as stating that “the report is clear: the more you wait, the more it will cost (and) the more difficult it will become.”
Ending the dominance of fossil fuels, which has been essentially unchallenged from the beginning of the era of economic development, is undoubtedly a massive challenge. However, this report reveals that targeted and widespread investment in renewable energy is a financially sound course of action. If this action is taken quickly, global warming could still be limited to a 2°C rise in global temperatures (the internationally agreed safe limit).