Three years after the Fukushima/Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Global100RE Ambassadors are highlighting the need to refrain from using hazardous nuclear and fossil energy sources and instead shift towards 100% renewable energy. Ambassadors of the Global 100% Renewable Energy Campaign Bill McKibben, David Suzuki, Hans-Josef Fell, Jeremy Leggett, and Ulrich Kelber call on policy makers around the world to take action as transitioning towards fossil-free societies is a matter of political will.
If human beings are to preserve modernity and planetary habitability, we must soon shift to 100% renewable energy in all sectors. The burning of fossil fuels is the main reason behind a 40% increase in CO2 concentrations since the industrial revolution (IPCC 2013). To avoid a further growth of greenhouse gas concentration, a stop of greenhouse gas emission is urgently necessary.Therefore a sustainable and efficient energy system is the prerequisite for achieving the internationally agreed upon climate protection target.
“Both present and future generations are relying on our acts right now to create a future transitionally less reliant on dirty energy,” says David Suzuki, scientist, broadcaster, author, and philanthropist. “Our dependence upon fossil resources has built a system that lacks diversity and security, threatens the health of our citizens, jeopardizes the stability of Earth’s climate, and robs future generations of clean air, clean water, and energy independence.”
The good news is that solutions exist. From North America, to Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania communities, islands, cities and countries show that making the transition to 100% renewable energy is a political decision and an ethical imperative – the technical options do exist. The Ambassadors of the international campaign Global 100% Renewable Energy champion these success stories as encouragement and catalyst for change. “Cities and communities show that we can ramp up renewable energy dramatically and quickly. We need to carry this message around the planet fast,” says Bill McKibben, renowned author, environmentalist and founder of 350.org.
“I think that it’s very encouraging to see communities moving away from fossil resources. From them we learn that it’s possible to power a modern economy 100% with renewables, and to do it much quicker than people anticipate,” says Jeremy Leggett, founder and chairman of Solarcentury and SolarAid.
A growing global movement among local and regional governments is proving that meeting 100% of our energy demand with renewable energy is viable. “Germany is one of the frontrunners in Europe on 100% Renewable Energy with 74 regions and municipalities that have already reached 100% renewable energy status,” says Ulrich Kelber, Member of the German Parliament.
US cities like San Francisco, Lancaster, and San José have set official policy targets to reach 100% renewable power within the next decade. The heartland town of Greensburg, KS has already reached its 100% renewable power goal set after being destroyed by a tornado in 2007, and aims to achieve renewable energy in all sectors. In Australia, where the national government is turning their back on renewables, the City government of Sydney and the local government of Tasmania have developed roadmaps aiming at 100% Renewable Energy by 2020.
Similarly, local governments across Japan are seeking to supply their regions with 100% renewable energy. The Great East Japan earthquake, the subsequent tsunami and the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 encouraged the people of Fukushima to reassess their energy system and to revitalize industry in the shattered region. This led to the vision of a renewable energy transition as the way forward. Fukushima Prefecture now has an official commitment to cover 100% of primary energy demand in Fukushima with renewable resources by 2040.
But it is not just cities and small towns with this ambition: Globally, there are several countries that are moving towards or have even already achieved 100% RE. Denmark, for example, demonstrates that 100% RE targets can be set and met at the national level. Further, Scotland and Iceland as well as island states like the Maldives and Tuvalu are demonstrating the feasibility of a fully renewable energy supply.
Making 100% renewable energy the new normal
These examples show that the necessary technologies and knowledge already exist today. Despite this basic logic, most policy makers have not taken up these measures. One fundamental necessity to breaking the inertia is a robust, global campaign for 100% renewable energy. „While being an inspiration, the move towards 100% Renewable Energy is still taking place in scattered communities and regions around the globe. We need to translate these best practices into best policies on national level,“ says Hans-Josef Fell, former Member of German Parliament and co-author of the German Feed-in Tariff law. “Policymakers have taken up measures nowhere near proportional to the urgency to act taking today`s crises like climate change, loss of biodiversity, resource scarcity and poverty into consideration.”
This was also the conclusion reached by 10 international organizations from civil society, industry, policy and academia that founded the first global initiative that advocates 100% renewable energy: Global 100% RE. It connects the fragmented dots of renewable energy advocates to build a strong global alliance. This unique campaign thus builds on projects that are already taking place on national, regional and local levels and redirects the global discourse on renewable energy towards 100% RE as the new normal. The goal is to engage stakeholders from different countries, sectors and backgrounds in a dialogue about 100% RE and inform people about the opportunities, case studies and stories from all over the world proving that 100% RE is possible. “Global 100% RE seeks to inspire change by showcasing good examples – because, as the case studies above show, 100% RE is already a reality today,” says Anna Leidreiter, Global 100% RE campaign coordinator.