The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is usually in the news to share more bad news about the possible consequences of climate change. While the organization has always had a working group on mitigation, this group’s contributions have rarely been considered as important as those focusing on climate science and the effects of global warming. That’s a shame since we are not going to solve this global problem just by talking about consequences. We may even have to do something to make our economies and societies more sustainable.
It’s great to see that the mitigation aspect of the IPCC work on the Fifth Assessment report, to be released in October 2015, is more oriented toward solutions. The draft summary for policymakers has now been released and is being discussed in the media. The message of the report is clear:
“Many RE technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions, and a growing number of RE technologies have achieved a level of maturity to enable deployment at significant scale (robust evidence, high agreement).”
“Mitigation policy could devalue fossil fuel assets and reduce revenues for fossil fuel exporters, but differences between regions and fuels exist (high confidence).”
In plain English, (i) renewable energy is ready to conquer the world but (ii) the fossil-fuel industry will continue to fight ambitious climate mitigation measures.
In the United States, the energy policy debate has often lost sight of these two important facts. The policy elite spends a lot of time talking about secondary issues, such as shale gas and “energy independence,” instead of focusing all their energies to pave the way for a clean energy future through the aggressive deployment of renewables and equally ambitious energy conservation measures. This is not surprising, given how much political clout the fossil-fuel industry has on Capitol Hill and in many state capitals. Independent energy policy analysts should step up their efforts to end this digression and re-focus the debate on more relevant issues. The more time we lose counting how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the more expensive it will be to stop disruptive climate change.