Friday, July 18, 2008

Climate Change: a new challenge for the US

In May 1961, US President John F Kennedy challenged his country to dream a bigger dream and put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Today, former Vice-President Al Gore launched a similar transformative challenge to the US: to end its dependence on fossil fuels and commit to 100% renewable electricity generation by 2018.

It's a big dream, which would reduce global carbon emissions by 8%, and likely spark a global energy revolution which would reduce them further in other rich nations. But is it achievable? Jerome at European Tribune (someone with strong experience in the wind industry) thinks "almost":

while 100% is probably unrealistic, it's not unreasonable to expect to be able to get pretty close to that number (say, in the 50-90% range) in that timeframe, and it is very likely that it makes a LOT of sense economically.
It would require a strong investment and some policy changes, but its certainly doable; all it needs is the policies. As for the benefits, because the cost of renewables is fixed at the time of construction, it would likely result in cheaper electricity prices for consumers as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, doing this would require a President who isn't a tool of the oil barons. Fortunately, Americans will get the chance to elect such a president in November.