A world run on clean energy.

The United Nations Independent Panel on Climate Change this week concluded that the catastrophic effects of climate change can be avoided without increasing heavy cost burdens on the public and private sectors. The panel released a report stating that it is now eminently affordable to move toward a world that is run on clean, renewable energy. Professor Ottmar Edenhofer who has being leading the IPCC team behind the report said “it doesn’t cost the world to save the planet”.

Professor Ottmar Edenhofer
Professor Ottmar Edenho

The team suggests ditching all fossil fuels in the coming decades as this is the easiest and least risky route to combating global warming. Ottmar Edenhofer said that gas, which includes gas produced by fracking, could be part of the short term transition process as long as it is used to phase out polluting coal power plants.

The report was produced with help of over 1200 scientists and has the backing of over 150 governments. The report dismisses fears that reducing reliance on fossil fuels will harm the global economy.

This report is the latest in a series that shows unequivocally that humans are to blame for rapid and potentially disastrous global warming. These recent reports have suggested that future global warming will lead to extreme weather events and could create mass migrations and wars over resources.

By diverting some of the billions of dollars that currently go into fossil fuels into renewable energy generation only a minor amount of world economic growth will be lost. The total growth reduction will be less than 0.1% of global GDP. The researchers also say that the longer the switch to renewable energy is put off then the greater the cost of change will become in the future.

The UKs energy minister welcomed the report saying that is clear that the tools are available to tackle the problem but international efforts must increase.

Other improvements which were highlighted but not elaborated on were reductions in air pollution which have plagued countries like China and even recently the UK. Energy security would also improve with countries in Europe not having to rely on gas imports from Russia.

The IPCC report found that carbon emissions have been rising rapidly in the last ten years, but if rapid action is taken then global warming can still be limited to a safe temperature increase of only 2°C. The report favours the use of wind, solar and hydropower because of their rapidly falling costs.

Friends of the earth said that it is rich nations that must move away from fossil fuels like coal and gas and they should also fund low carbon renewables in developing countries.