Calls mount for acceleration of clean energy revolution

Greenpeace has joined calls for the acceleration of the clean energy revolution in the wake of the United Nations’ report into progress on scaling back climate change, which revealed that greenhouse gases are 14% higher than they need to be in 2020 if the world is to avoid warming above 2 degrees Celsius.

"To prevent climate chaos, devastating health effects and water scarcity, the vast majority of the proposed 1,200 coal-fired power plants around the world cannot go ahead,” said Kaisa Kosonen, climate policy adviser at Greenpeace International. “Clean and safe renewable energy is already pushing coal out of the electricity market, and this is the clean energy revolution that governments must speed up."

The calls, which join earlier warnings from the World Bank, the CIA and PWC, that serious climate warming is becoming an ever-increasing risk, come on the eve of December’s UN climate talks in the city of Doha, Qatar. Following on from the Durban roadmap set out in 2011, the Doha talks will see the international community attempt to agree new measures to reduce climate change.

“At the climate talks in Doha, governments can and must maintain a robust international process free from loopholes,” said Kosonen. “Beyond Doha, governments and business must focus on redirecting investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy and efficiency.”

According to the UN report, instead of declining, concentrations of greenhouse gases are actually increasing in the atmosphere by around 20% since 2000.

“Action on climate change needs to be scaled-up and accelerated without delay if the world is to have a running chance of keeping a global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius this century,” the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) said on Tuesday.

If no swift action is taken by nations, emissions are likely to be at 58 Gt eight years' time, far above the 44Gt target set by the UN, the report said. This will leave a gap that is now bigger than it was in earlier UNEP assessments of 2010 and 2011 and is in part as a result of projected economic growth in key developing economies.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The sobering fact remains that a transition to a low carbon, inclusive Green Economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity for meeting the 44 Gt target is narrowing annually.”

He added: "While governments work to negotiate a new international climate agreement to come into effect in 2020, they urgently need to put their foot firmly on the action pedal by fulfilling financial, technology transfer and other commitments under the UN climate convention treaties.”

Commentators suggested today that one way of speeding up the low-carbon revolution would be an amnesty on green-tech patents which could help speed up renewable technology development and deployment.

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