Attenborough et al kick-start ‘renewables space race’ ahead of Paris

Sir David Attenborough, Unilever's Paul Polman and former UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey are among 27 leading scientists, business executives, academics and politicians that have signed a joint letter backing an Apollo-style research programme to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels.

The letter, published today (16 September), argues that “a sensible approach to tackling climate change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world”.

It urges the leading nations of the world to commit to the Global Apollo Program, which seeks to emulate the ‘space race’ of the 1960’s to encourage more spending on clean energy; in a bid to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within the next 10 years.

“Just as with the Apollo space missions of the 1960s, great scientific minds must now be assembled to find a solution to one of the biggest challenges we face,” the letter reads. “The [Global Apollo] Plan requires leading governments to invest a total of at least $15bn a year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy – that compares to the $100bn currently invested in defence R&D globally each year.”

The list of world-renowned signatories of the letter also includes Professor Brian Cox, Lord Nicholas Stern, BT’s chief sustainability officer Niall Dunne and Earth Institute director Jeffery Sachs.

The Global Apollo Program for internationally coordinated research, development and demonstration into renewable energy technology was first proposed in June by a group of scientists, economists and energy experts including Sir David King, Lord Stern, Lord Adair Turner and ex-BP chief Lord John Browne.

Today’s letter has been published at the same time as a new video from Attenborough in which the naturalist gives his own support for the Program.

In the video, Attenborough says: “I have been lucky enough to spend my life exploring the world’s oceans, forests and deserts. But the Earth, with its spectacular variety of creatures and landscapes, is now in danger.

“Just one thing, however, would be enough to halt climate change. If clean energy became cheaper than coal, gas or oil, fossil fuel would simply stay in the ground.”

World leaders and politicians from more than 190 countries are meeting in Paris this December, to sign an international agreement on how to tackle climate change. With less than 80 days left before the climate talks, 60 countries – representing more than 60% of global emissions – have brought forward their intended, nationally-determined contributions towards a climate deal

edie has summarised everything you need to know about the COP21 Paris Climate Conference in our latest edie explains article.

Luke Nicholls

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