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Landmark UN Study Voices Belief in Renewable Future

By Melanie J. Martin - 09 May 2011 19:33:0 GMT
Landmark UN Study Voices Belief in Renewable Future

By 2050, 77 percent of the world's energy could come from renewable sources, says a landmark report commissioned by the UN. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation on May 9th.

The co-chairman of the group of 120 experts who conducted the assessment said relying on sustainable energy will present political and logistics challenges, but is feasible. The study examines how energy might evolve in 160 different scenarios, grouping these into 4 comprehensive scenarios. The scenarios encompass different pathways of socio-economic and technological change.

Policies providing incentive for renewable energy technologies will help these technologies to evolve and spread, say the report's authors. Even without policies, the technologies are likely to emerge albeit at a slower rate, they assert.

In the best-case scenario, greenhouse gasses would stay under 450 parts per million, limiting temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius. This will require an investment of around $5 trillion over the next decade.

The worst-case scenario presents renewable energy as making up 15 percent of the supply by 2050.

A renewable future could benefit developing nations with limited access to energy as well as the environment. Nations without developed energy networks are poised to adopt new technologies, particularly those that let them generate their own energy. Developing nations hold 50 percent of sustainable energy-generating potential, says the report.

The authors considered six renewable forms of energy: bioenergy; hydropower; and solar, geothermal, ocean, and wind energy. Current technologies could more than supply the world's energy demands, they assert. Challenges are mainly political and logistic; incentives and supply frameworks must be developed.

The report was released in a May 9th meeting in Abu Dhabi. Representatives from all participating countries had to agree to the version of the report to be presented to governments.