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Renewables' potential revealed?

Renewable energy could supply 77% of world energy needs by 2050, according to a new report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), up from just 13% now. To achieve this, governments will have to back renewable energy with unprecedented investment and the right enabling public policies. Deploying renewable-energy technologies could help prevent 220 to 560 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere between 2010 and 2050.

Ramon Pichs, co-chair of the IPCC Working Group that produced the report, added that “developing countries have an important stake in this future—this is where most of the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity live yet also where some of the best conditions exist for renewable energy deployment.”

Reaction to the report was mixed. Geoffrey Lean, writing in UK newspaper the The Daily Telegraph, said: “the potential is immense. Even if its optimistic scenario for 2050 actually becomes reality, 97% of the technical potential for renewables worldwide will remain untapped.”

Sven Teske of Greenpeace International, one of the lead authors of the report, said: “This is an invitation to governments to initiate a radical overhaul of their policies and place renewable energy centre stage. On the run up to the next major climate conference, COP17 in South Africa in December, the onus is clearly on governments to step up to the mark.”

However US academic Roger Pielke Junior had a slightly different take on the report, suggesting that “the IPCC has just issued a new summary for policymakers for a forthcoming special report on renewable energy that appears (indirectly and obliquely) to finally admit that we just do not have the technology necessary to achieve low targets for the stabilisation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (e.g. something like 450 ppm).”

The full, 900 page report will be released on May 31. 

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gaidee

关键在于适应,而不是增加供应

关于可再生能源的问题,我们不能全部依赖IPCC的报告。联合国的政治问题太多,现在看来,气候变化问题交给联合国实在是不明智之举。前年底的时候,我在美国在科学的美国人上读到了一篇文章,说是全球需要大约350万台风力发电机以及几十万平方公里的太阳能发电系统,足以解决全球的电力供应问题。现在又看到这个长达九百页的将要面世的“好消息”,心里不是滋味。首先,2050年是个遥远的未来,那时候很多人都不在世界上了,给人以一种虚空的感觉,调不起世人之积极性;其次,如果这么好的事情,为什么现在不做,或者过去的20年来,做的还是那么少?我们不能总是靠把问题推到未来,而洋洋得意;其三,苹果手机不用什么联合国推广,大家都排队抢着买,难道这个可再生能源就是那么差嘛?为什么微软的比尔盖茨不那么热衷你们说的什么新能源,转而投巨资搞行波核能呢?这个世界上最富裕的人都看不上的东西,偏偏联合国这么热衷呢?人家又有钱,又有势,把他排除在外是不是可笑?再把坏小子苹果的乔布斯弄进来,在全球宣传不是一件更可行、更靠谱的事情吗?真是看不懂IPCC的专家们做的这马子事情。

然后又是什么发展中国家要这样,要那样。我们发展中国家要汽车、要洋房、要iPhone、要这个要那个,还不是学的西方的。你发展可再生能源,那么你自己先搞出来,大规模普及普及给穷人们看看,那时候,你不让发展中国家学都不行。我们中国搞这个不能说不积极,搞得现在风能过剩;弄得太阳能产业“过热”,也算是给发达国家乃至其它发展中国家敲了一个警钟。别以为搞可再生能源的钱是树上长的,花了那么多钱,是有机会成本的,搞得不好非但不能节能,往往还适得其反,弄得你自己哭笑不得。快到2012了,这个世界怎么就这么不能消停消停呢?

To adapt more, not to supply more

On the issue of renewable energy, we can't completely rely on IPCC. Now that it seems to be unwise to entrust UN with the issue of climate change, for there are too many political issues with it. At the end of 2009, I read an article in Scientific American in the US, which said that the problem of electrocity supply can be resolved if there are around 3.5 million aerogenerator and a solar heating system with a space of hundreds of thousands of square meter, so I feel complicated when seeing the coming "good news" in 900 pages. Firstly, year 2050 is in a far-distant future, and many people will be dead at that time. It makes people feel hollow and thus fails to activate them. Secondly, if the solution is so great, why don't we apply them? Why have we done so little in the past 20 years? We can't keep leaving problems to the future and be proud of it. Thirdly, Iphone didn't need any UN promotion to make itself eagerly wanted by people waiting in line. Is the renewable energy even not as good as an Iphone? If renewable energy is as promising as it appears, why don't Bill Gates care about it but focus on traveling wave nuclear reactor? Why is UN so keen on something that are not emphasized by the richest people with great power in the world? Isn't it ridiculous? Won't it be more effective and practical to invite Jobs into the huge promotion? I just don't see what's going on in those IPCC experts' mind. Then our developing countries are blamed on asking for whatever it is. The trend of demand - cars, houses, Iphones - are all led by western countries. They shall apply the technology, expand its scale and show it to us, if you want the renewable energy to be widely applied. At that time the developing countries will be eager to learn this technologies. China is quite active in renewable energy generating, but the result is surplus on wind and solar energy. That is also a warning to all the developed and developing countries. The money invested in renewable energy does not come from nowhere. There are also opportunity costs. It probably ends no good - with so much money spent and no energy saved. Since 2012 is coming near, why can't everybody calm down?

This comment is translated by Zhang Xiaofei.