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Worldwatch Report: Renewable Revolution: Low-Carbon Energy by 2030

Worldwatch Report: Renewable Revolution: Low-Carbon Energy by 2030

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Humanity can prevent catastrophic climate change if we act now and adopt policies that reduce energy usage by unleashing the full potential of energy efficiency in concert with renewable energy resources. However, this goal is not likely to be achieved if our only measure of success is emissions reductions; climate change is fundamentally a development issue, not a pollution problem. As a result, target-setting has failed to achieve needed reductions in energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to date.
Humanity can prevent catastrophic climate change if we act now and adopt policies that reduce energy usage by unleashing the full potential of energy efficiency in concert with renewable energy resources. However, this goal is not likely to be achieved if our only measure of success is emissions reductions; climate change is fundamentally a development issue, not a pollution problem. As a result, target-setting has failed to achieve needed reductions in energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to date.

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Published by: Worldwatch Institute on Jun 28, 2010
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Local governments can play a key role in promoting sustainable energy at the community level. Not
only do they have a political mandate to govern and guide their communities, provide services, and
manage municipal assets, they also have the legislative and purchasing power necessary to implement
changes in their own operations and in the community. Local governments can act as models in their
regions or countries, showing how policies and local actions can be shaped to guide the transition to a
sustainable energy future.
Because cities are responsible (directly and indirectly) for more than two-thirds of global carbon
dioxide emissions, local actions can contribute significantly to addressing climate change. Local gov-
ernments are closest to the citizens and businesses that they represent and often have direct authority
to administer building codes, implement land use and transportation decisions, and manage public
buildings and purchases. Often local governments can be accessed and convinced of the benefits of
sustainable energy strategies much more effectively than their national governments can.
Cities have been engaged in local climate action and related coordination on a global level since the
early 1990s. Although local governments first became engaged in promoting sustainable energy for
the purpose of “climate protection,” the motivating factors have expanded significantly over the years.
The promotion of “Local Renewables”—a strategic combination of energy efficiency, energy saving,
and the promotion of renewable energy at the local level—is growing rapidly.
Members of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability and other local governments view Local
Renewables as key to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and to the needed energy transition.
They have many good reasons: First, energy is produced locally and securely, ensuring community
resilience. Second, less energy is used and money is saved that can be reinvested in additional sus-
tainable energy. Third, local jobs are created and the economy is stimulated. Fourth, local stakeholders
promote synergies to encourage change. And fifth, local actions support the achievement of national
and international carbon dioxide reduction targets, promote sustainable urban development, and con-
tribute to poverty alleviation.
The year 2009 has seen a great advance in the availability of data on municipal targets and policies
as well on the collection of cases and local stories, notably through the Global Status Report on Local
Renewable Energy Policies and the “Cities Climate Catalogue.” Cities and local governments from all
over the world have taken on lead roles in promoting renewable energy.
Since the international climate negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007, local govern-
ments have conducted an intensive international advocacy campaign—the Local Government Climate
Roadmap—to request their inclusion in a new post-2012 climate agreement. Local governments are
calling for references to their role within the final text that sets out the formal and binding commit-
ments of nations. The aim is to ensure that the many voluntary and successful model activities of
cities and local governments achieve their full potential and play the strong role required for the low-
carbon energy transition.

—Monika Zimmermann, ICLEI International Training Centre and ICLEI Local Renewables Initiative

Source: See Endnote 6 for this section.

“work”is inherently inefficient. Wherever
renewable energy technologies displace ther-
mal processes (fossil combustion or nuclear
power), there is a major reduction in the
amount of primary energy required. Wind,
hydro, wave, tidal, and solar energy convert
natural flows of mechanical energy or the
sun’s light directly to electricity without the
losses associated with fossil and nuclear fuels.
Electric motors in vehicles (which can be pro-
duced with renewable energy) convert elec-
tricity to motion at 80-percent efficiency,
whereas internal combustion automobile

engines convert only 20 percent of the energy
in gasoline to propel vehicles forward.8
According to one global estimate, making the
conversion to 100-percent renewable power
plants and all-electric vehicles results in a 31-
percent decrease in primary energy demand
in 2030 relative to business as usual.9

Due to
these significant efficiencies, a major part of
any strategy to transition to a more efficient
and renewable energy system will require that
electricity represents an increasing share of
energy demand.

Third,many renewable technologies,such
as solar PV,are well suited for distributed
generation,producing electricity close to
where it is needed and thereby minimizing
transmission losses.
As a result, less energy
must be generated to meet the same level of
demand. These technologies are also comple-
mented by a range of new micropower genera-
tors, or“home power stations,”which can
provide heat and power with efficiency ratings
of about 94 percent and can help balance out
the variability of generation from wind and
solar power.10

Fourth,the direct use of solar energy for
passive heating and lighting does not require
any energy conversion technologies to pro-
vide desired energy services,thus reducing
the amount of primary energy needed to pro-
vide desired energy services.
However, they
also require integrating demand with supply
for the most effective utilization.

Renewable Revolution: Low-Carbon Energy by 2030

www.worldwatch.org

18

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Synergies

The Nesjavellir geothermal power plant is the largest such plant
in Iceland.

JenniferBoyer

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