High carbon 'trap' could ignite 6 degrees rise - WWF

The world is at risk of being "locked-in" to high carbon infrastructure for decades to come - unless major investment in renewables is made, WWF has warned.

Clean Energy Ministerial panel discussion at the Foreign Office, London

Clean Energy Ministerial panel discussion at the Foreign Office, London

At a press conference held earlier today (April 25), as part of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), WWF said that decarbonising energy systems and implementing renewable forms of energy is an "absolute necessity".

Addressing ministers from the UK, Denmark and Germany at the Foreign Office in London, WWF-International leader of the global climate and energy initiative Samantha Smith warned that failure to invest urgently in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies could lock the world into temperature increases of up to 6 degrees - making large areas uninhabitable.

This, she said would place the world "substantially above" the global goal to prevent temperature rises of more than 2 degrees.

As a result, she said that to address this threat, energy systems must be decarbonised and work made to move towards renewable forms of energy.

However, on a more positive note Ms Smith said this represents an opportunity for the renewables sector to develop, adding that WWF research shows that large-scale transition to renewable energy globally can be achieved using current technology, to provide energy for the entire world's population.

Reinforcing the WWF's message, ministers from Denmark and Germany also stressed the urgency with which investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency was needed.

The ministers added that the national renewable energy and efficiency targets set by both countries for 2020 would help them benefit from innovative clean energy technologies, which they claim would create substantial economic growth benefits.

Denmark's minister of climate and energy Martin Liegegaard expressed some frustration at the pace of which international climate change negotiations are moving, but said that he was "reassured to some degree" by action being taken at a "bottom up level".

He attributes this partly to an increase in fossil fuel prices, which he says has made the Danish business community more interested in renewables, saying that "we can expect to have a more competitive industry in the next eight years".

Ms Smith agreeing saying that growth in renewables is growing with investment this year now outstripping fossil fuels.

However, Mr Liegegaard also warned that if government's make the wrong choices now that a "historic mistake" will have been made.

Minister for energy Greg Barker said that he hoped agreements between 23 member countries during CEM would help stimulate private sector investment and renewables development more quickly.

While the minister noted that it was necessary "to be realistic" in the current fiscal climate he said that the UK is "well on its way", with initiatives such as the Green Investment Bank, a carbon capture storage (CCS) competition and offshore wind deployment all playing a key role.

He said: "We are committed to ensuring the UK meets its 2050 climate objective, which has been designed to limit global temperature increases to around 2 degrees. In order to reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050, we need to accelerate progress in the development of clean energy technologies."

Carys Matthews


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