IPCC Releases Good News for Little Countries (and big countries too!)

An IPCC working group just released a report on renewable energy  that brings cause for celebration on many fronts. The report is a good read for the broad spectrum range of interests among us- those that see climate change as a business opportunity for solutions-developent, to those that simply desire a stronger commitment among nations and individuals to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and to those that care deeply for the “little guy” – the “drowning islands” – and worry about their ability to survive and thrive in a changing world. The report highlights renewable energy’s ability to significantly and safely reduce climate-change causing greenhouse gas emissions. It states that by 2050, 80% of the world’s energy needs could be met through the renewable energy sector- a shocking figure and welcome good news.

RE can help accelerate access to energy, particularly for the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity and the additional 1.3 billion using traditional biomass.

Further, and of specialized interest to me personally, the report discusses renewable energy’s availability to small countries. In the picture below, taken on a tiny island in the middle of Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia, the islanders of Tacquille received this solar panel as a gift from the government. My knowledge here is limited to what island residents shared with me as we walked around the terraced potato and bean crops one sunny afternoon, so I have to go on trust with the details. Tacquille island’s infant mortality rate is apparently quite high for geographical and weather-related reasons. (Apparently and tragically, the tiny, steeply sloped island receives frequent massive and chaotic storm events, making it tough for child rearing.) In sympathetic recognition of a particularly fatal year, the government provided this and other solar panels to the islanders. I think the gift is a beautiful reminder of our fragility in the midst of a strong, demanding, and increasingly traumatic world, but also of the planet’s constant donation of usable and easily harness-able resources, even in locations as remote as the middle of Lake Titicaca.

IPCC: http://www.ipcc.ch/

IPCC’s Renewable Energy Report Summary for Policy Makers (only a summary of the length report: http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session33/doc20_p33_SPM_SRREN.pdf

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2 responses

  1. Cameron Coleman

    I couldn’t agree more! Renewable Energy has the ability to not only transform the developing nations, but transform the developed nations too.
    There are stories of communities being transformed by a single solar panel. The panel charges a battery, which gives light in the evening allowing students to see while learning in class. As a result of the light from the solar panel, the test scores shot up from 30-40% pass, to 80-90% pass rate. This education will change the future for the villages where this has happened.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    • Agreed Cam! Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we see lots more implementation in these coming years! (I know just the guy to send inquiring people to!)

      May 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm

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