There are two facts that I wake up thinking each morning: 1) Avoiding dangerous climate change will save one third of animal species on this planet from being at risk of extinction. 2) Avoiding dangerous climate change requires that the energy infrastructure in place by 2017 is sufficiently in clean energy and energy efficiency. It is a wonder anyone sleeps at night. Protecting the species and incredible places in this world requires people living in harmony with nature. That also means working, acting, and decision-making in harmony with nature. We now know that this means, to be quite precise: investing in harmony with nature.
To act on climate change, the world must transition from coal, oil and gas to clean, renewable sources like solar and wind power. This energy infrastructure is in part defined by its initial investment capital. Energy can be funded by public money – from governments or institutions with government money like the World Bank with the job of serving society and development objectives. Energy can also be funded by private money – investors or companies looking for a financial return.
Fact number two comes from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Previously the IEA stated that the energy infrastructure in place by 2017 could make or break climate change, which could be extended by advances made on energy efficiency. Today, the IEA released a new report. The update warns that the current trend of energy investments falls well short of the amount needed to avoid dangerous global warming. The report calls on both governments and the private sector to start shifting investments from dirty fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) into sustainable, renewable energy.
“A shift to renewable energy is more possible now than it was just five years ago,” as my colleague Dr. Stephan Singer, Director of Global Energy Policy for WWF International says. “If those investments go to renewable energy, we can avoid dangerous climate change.”
Investments of about $ 2 trillion USD annually by the year 2035, will be required for both energy efficiency and clean energy. Currently, the world invests less than $ 400 billion USD in clean energy while all fossil fuel investments have grown to around $ 1.1 trillion USD in 2013. Fossil fuel subsidies account for another $2 trillion USD.
The past year has seen major advances in research and findings on both climate change and the implications investments and finance have on actually determining the path of climate change impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently stated that investments were needed to clean energy to avoid dangerous climate change. When asked by reporters how expensive this transition would be, the blunt answer was simply: “It does not cost the world to save the planet.”
In other words, “Any investor who considers the findings of this report and of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report will reach an obvious conclusion: it’s time to pull their money out of fossil fuels and to reinvest in a clean energy system,” explains my colleague Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative. “We need to put our money into the future – into a just energy transition, with a focus on renewables and energy efficiency,” she explains, and most importantly, “The approach has been defined. Now the action must start.”
Now that I think about it, there are more than just two facts that I wake up to each morning. While the first is what drives me, and the second is what drives me to act rapidly, the third – and most essential thought – is this: 3) Avoiding dangerous climate change is possible. All of this is possible.