David Attenborough Among Renowned Experts Calling For Global Apollo-Style Program For Clean Energy

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One of the world’s most familiar faces, and even more familiar voices, Sir David Attenborough has joined his voice to a group of renowned experts calling for an Apollo-style research program intended to decrease the cost of renewable energy.

Sir David Attenborough is one of the planet’s most famous scientists, known the world over for the soothing tones of his naturalist-documentary voice-overs. The 89-year old has joined his voice to an open letter written via The Guardian calling for world leaders to commit to backing the Global Apollo Programme, itself intending to make renewable energy cheaper than oil within 10 years.

In a speech delivered at Rice University in September of 1962, then-US President John F Kennedy declared that the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of that decade. It was a ridiculous and absurdly overreaching statement, but when that was accomplished in 1969 with Apollo 11.

The same drive and passion that pushed the US to land a man on the moon — even though it had barely even got its space flight program off the ground — is needed now to impact the way renewable energy is developed around the world. The Global Apollo Program, named in honor of the famous US Apollo space program, intends to “accelerate the decarbonisation of the world economy through more rapid technical progress, achieved through an internationally-coordinated program of research and development over a 10-year period.”

Sir-David-AttenboroughMany names have already gotten behind the Global Apollo Program, and a recent open letter published in The Guardian — including Sir David Attenborough’s name — is calling on world leaders to similarly back the program.

“The plan requires leading governments to invest a total of $15 billion a year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy,” the 26 signatories write. “That compares to the $100 billion currently invested in defence research and development globally each year.”

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Joshua S Hill

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15 thoughts on “David Attenborough Among Renowned Experts Calling For Global Apollo-Style Program For Clean Energy

  • Or we could do it with one law in every country: Phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

    • A more direct law would be to phase out fossil fuels. Not every country has large direct subsidies.

      • Why limit yourself to direct costs? Add it all. Yes I know those will be estimates and people will fight about it. Also need to prevent fossil fuel lock in by old generators trying to reregulate so they can stay alive.

        • No reason. I say attack FF from all sides with salvo fire.
          But I was responding in the mould of the OP’s “this one simple trick” measure to effect the transition to 0% FF.

  • We need to start scheduling the end of fossil fuels. In Denmark, they gave already banned fossil fuels for heat. In New York City we’ve already banned No. 6 fuel oil and No. 4 is scheduled to end in the future. When will we end No 2 oil and natural gas?

  • Research and development are fine, but what we most urgently need is rapid, large-scale deployment of the powerful, mature solar and wind energy technologies that are already available NOW.

    • The call for a huge research programme is associated with bent delayists like Lomborg. It’s a con.

      • Yep . . . delaying is stupid. We already have the technology needed. And the best way to get the prices down is to BUILD & DEPLOY it.

  • Attenborough is a great man. The Japanese would make him a National Treasure. But oh dear oh dear. The latter is nonsense, It only makes sense if you replace “research and development” by “deployment”.

    Let’s wearily say it again. You could close down every single research centre on energy technology – nuclear, solar, wind, oil, fusion, the lot – tomorrow. It would make no difference to the problem we have, which is simply to deploy terawatts of wind and solar power, with enough hydro, pumped storage, hot salt CSP, biomass and batteries to assure a reliable 24/7 supply. We know already that at current prices this is cheaper than BAU. (Source IPCC 5 WG4, with generating costs updated from Lazards). Throw in GDP health impacts, and it’s a huge saving.

    We should not of course close the research centres. Further improvements, both incremental and disruptive, will make the transition cheaper and faster. There are also a number of specific problems for which we don’t yet have shovel-ready solutions: shipping, aviation. cement, sequestration. These problems call for a large and purposeful R & D effort. Twice current levels would do it. All you need to do is stop wasting money on nuclear.

    • Yes the best way to get industry to increase R&D would be a 10x increase in deployment. A heavy carbon tax dividend system to prove that the future is RE.

      • That’s a good point. Boost the market and companies will increase their R&D efforts to capture part of that market.

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  • More R & D is nice. But I always cringe at these calls for an “Apollo project” or a “Manhattan project” for renewables. Those are exactly the WRONG idea. Those projects were huge ambitious projects to accomplish a technical goal WITH NO REGARD TO FINANCIAL COST.

    With renewables, what we need are ECONOMICALLY COMPETITIVE renewable energy systems. This is best achieved with tax-credits and incentive programs as we have been doing. No need for Apollo or Manhattan projects.

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  • Every single commenter on this thread gets it, simply from following the cleantech news. Half of Wall Street gets it, from following the stock prices. The problem is the respectable old guys like Attenborough, who get their information from lazy and/or biased MSM reporters and editorialists. “Renewable energy is expensive, because everybody I know and the papers I read and the TV news I watch all say so”.

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