Could Cancun Deliver a Global Renewable Energy Standard?

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As international negotiators meet once more in the ongoing attempt to get international agreement to cut greenhouse gases to safe levels, one idea being presented at the climate talks at Cancun is an international Global – Renewable Energy Standard (G-RES).

The American Council On Renewable Energy made the proposal on Friday. As described for Forbes by William Pentland, a self described policy wonk at the Pace Energy and Climate Center, European reaction was positive.

“Agreeing on a global renewable energy target would be a positive signal for the world that countries are really serious and take concrete action against climate change,” said Arthorous Zervos, President of the European Renewable Energy Council. “It is high-time to deliver a concrete outcome of the UN climate talks, the agreement on a global renewable energy target would send a signal of hope to the world.”

Explaining the proposal, ACORE President Michael Eckhart said, “We know today that three of the cornerstone paths to climate protection are the adoption of renewable energy, investment in greater energy efficiency, and protection of the rainforests as the Earth’s lungs. It is time to have concerted action on each of those three paths, getting started on what we know will work.”

The G-RES proposed would allow nations to comply with the requirement by either installing renewable energy systems sufficient to meet the goal or paying other nations to do it for them, and require that every nation source 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Some nations have already exceed these targets; like 90% renewably powered Costa Rica, and 75% renewable New Zealand.

China has just passed ten-year legislation that requires it to get a staggering 500 Gigawatts of renewable energy on the grid in ten years with a 15% by 2020 Renewable Energy Standard. They would need to add another 10% to get to this 25% target by 2025. Europe is mostly within this range. Although the US is incapable of passing a national RES, about half the US states already are working on targets for 2020 and at least twelve states have RES policy within this range for 2025.

Image: Alvaro Sanchez-Montanes

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