There are a lot of announcements out there from countries and companies regarding increasing renewable energy adoption and reducing emissions. A recent article in the journal Nature pointed out that they are often too vague and vary quite a lot. The authors recommended clarifying scope and a long-term roadmap, among other things. 47 other scientists in this realm have made that a little easier for any leaders with a modest amount of courage and ambition. They say that countries and companies can and should aim for 100% renewable electricity no later than 2030, and 100% renewable energy (covering other sectors beyond electricity) by 2035.
The 47 scientists have published a joint declaration. The bold subheading: “A world based on 100% renewable energy is possible, and we are able to transform the energy system fast enough to avoid the climate catastrophe!” You can also support the declaration by signing this short Google form.
The 7 core scientists who formed the initiative, the initial signatories, highlighted that the meager target of 100% zero emissions by 2050 is unfortunately common. That just won’t cut it. And there’s not reason it has to be so far out. Elon Musk will probably have a small society on Mars by then.
The initial signatories also note that the essence of this transition is simple. “The core solution to meeting this timeline is to electrify or provide direct heat for all energy and provide the electricity and heat globally with 100% renewable energy (RE),” they write. There is no need for any scientific breakthrough. No nuclear code has to be cracked. No giant leap in technology is needed. Heck, not even a small hop is needed. Companies and countries just need to get to work electrifying old, inefficient tech and implementing other cost-effective, common-sense solutions to fill in the gaps.
Circling back to the vague and varied government targets I mentioned at the top, these scientists explain the same thing in other words and with a nice slew of facts:
“To date, 11 countries have reached or exceeded 100% renewable electricity; 12 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030; 49 countries have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2050; 14 U.S. states and territories have passed laws or executive orders to reach up to 100% renewable electricity by between 2030 and 2050; over 300 cities worldwide have passed laws to reach 100% renewable electricity by no later than 2050; and over 280 international businesses have committed to 100% renewables across their global operations. However, only Denmark has passed laws to reach 100% renewable energy across all sectors, and it is by 2050.”
They also highlight that even some organizations that are heavily pro-renewables and bullish enablers of growth have targets or forecasts that are too weak due to a reliance on out-of-date information. “In the public debate, policies to reach 100% renewables across all energy sectors are few in number, and by 2035 are non-existent. Some have considered such policies impractical. Based on old data, even major bodies, such as IRENA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have only demanded to achieve 70% RE by 2050. The EU as a whole has only a 32% RE target in total energy by 2030, Germany has only a 65% target in the electric power sector.”
These are dramatically inadequate and underwhelming. The scientists — Eicke R. Weber, Mark Z. Jacobson, Hans-Josef Fell, Christian Breyer, Tony Seba, Andrew Blakers, and Brian Vad Mathiesen — do not see the point of such unambitious targets when it is completely viable and technically practical to transition much more quickly, especially considering how important a quick transition is to a stable climate and livable society. This is their closing message:
“The world’s leading researchers on wholesale energy transitions, some who have been researching for almost two decades the realization of a complex and secure energy supply with 100% RE, have summarized the findings of their research in a 10 point declaration. Their main message is: The transformation to 100% renewables is possible and will be coming much faster than the general expectation. A 100% renewable electricity supply is possible by 2030, and with substantial political will around the world, 100% renewable energy is also technically and economically feasible across all other sectors by 2035. A 100% RE system will be more cost effective than will a future system based primarily on fossil and nuclear power. The transformation to 100% renewables will boost the global economy, create millions more jobs than lost, and substantially reduce health problems and mortality due to pollution.”
You can read the full 10-point declaration here. You can also find an announcement about this in Chinese, German, French, Spanish, or Danish here. That is also where you can find more information on the 7 core signatories and the 40 additional academics and researchers who signed onto the statement.