The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published a new Positive Energy report that shows that renewable sources of energy could meet between 60-90% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2030. This report has been widely welcomed by businesses, individuals and organizations as an important contribution to the energy debate (see “Clean energy future can happen”, WWF, 21 October 2011: http://www.wwf.org.uk/wwf_articles.cfm?unewsid=5361 and for discussion see Nick Molho (Head of Energy Policy at WWF-UK), “In defence of renewables”, UK New Statesman, 26 October 2011: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/10/renewable-energy-climate-china ”).
Some key reasons why we need 100% renewable energy and non-carbon energy ASAP and why transitions to non-renewables gas or nuclear are bad:
1. In 2009 the WBGU which advises the German Government on climate change estimated that for a 75% chance of avoiding a 2C temperature rise (EU policy) the World must emit no more than 600 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050. This means getting to zero emissions within 5-10 years (most EU countries), 6.6 years (the UK) and 3.1 years (the US). Climate criminal Australia, a world leader in annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG)pollution, had already used up its "fair share" of this terminal GHG pollution "budget" by mid-2011 and is now stealing the entitlement of impoverished, global warming-threatened countries like Somalia and Bangladesh (see "Shocking analysis by country of years left to zero emissions" : http://www.green-blog.org/2011/08/01/shocking-analysis-by-country-of-years-left-to-zero-emissions/ ).
2. Gas is dirty energy and we need to stop extracting gas rather than developing new sources. We must stop coal seam gas exploitation that despoils nature, agriculture and aquifers. Methane (most of natural gas) leaks and is 105 times worse than CO2 as a GHG on a 20 year time frame and taking aerosol impacts into account. Significant methane leakage means, for example, that with existing power plants in heavily coal-based Victoria, Australia, at a 3.3% systemic gas leakage (the US average) burning gas for power is roughly as dirty GHG-wise as burning coal and at 7.9% leakage (as from fracking-derived gas in the US) burning gas for power can be twice as dirty GHG-wise as burning coal (see: “3 reasons the World must stop coal seam gas (CSG, coalbed gas, coalbed methane”: http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article21302 ).
3. In the context of an existing carbon-based energy economy nuclear is a major CO2 emitter from extraction and processing of uranium oxide, plant construction, plant decommissioning and radioactive waste disposal. Uranium-based nuclear is dirty (GHG-wise and radioactivity-wise), dangerous and expensive - and also civil liberties-threatening in the case of a fast breeder-based plutonium economy (thorium-based nuclear power is better albeit non-renewable).