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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Worldwide 100% renewable energy needed and possible by 2050, per new publication

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August 24, 2017  read full Cosmos article here and ScienceDaily article here

Everybody wants to change the world. Few of us publish research detailing exactly how to do it.

Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson, who led a 2015 effort to create a state-by-state plan for a US transition to 100% renewable energy, has published similar research on a much larger scale, examining scenarios in which 139 countries could be powered purely by wind, water and solar (WWS) by the year 2050.

In scope and scale, the paper – published in the new energy journal Joule – is a significant expansion on Jacobson’s prior work. It isn’t limited to each country’s electricity sector – it examines the electrification and decarbonisation of transportation, heating, cooling, industry, agriculture, forestry and fishing. The authors chose the 139 countries, which between them cover 99% of the world’s carbon emissions, because the necessary energy data about them were available through the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The latest roadmap to a 100% renewable energy future from Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson and 26 colleagues is the most specific global vision yet, outlining infrastructure changes that 139 countries can make to be entirely powered by wind, water, and sunlight by 2050 after electrification of all energy sectors. Such a transition could mean less worldwide energy consumption due to the efficiency of clean, renewable electricity; a net increase of over 24 million long-term jobs; an annual decrease in 4-7 million air pollution deaths per year; stabilization of energy prices; and annual savings of over $20 trillion in health and climate costs….

….“Both individuals and governments can lead this change. Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” says Jacobson. “We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction.”

His ideal policy outcome would see “governments in many countries of the world commit to 100% clean, renewable energy in all sectors by 2050 with 80% by 2030”.

“To avoid 1.5 C global warming, we need 80% reduction of everything by 2030 and 100% by 2050. We think a faster acceleration is possible at reasonable to low cost.”

….Jacobson’s paper is designed to serve as a vision for future, but even Finkel’s proposal [a recent review authored by Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel] for a far less ambitious emissions reduction target has not been adopted several months after it was proposed….

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