Momentum towards the inevitable clean economic transition has received two significant boosts in recent weeks, with Elon Musk pulling the notion of renewable energy storage out of the too-hard basket and into consumer’s laps, and the World Bank today laying out the steps countries need to follow to affordably stabilise climate change.
Warning that costs will grow if world governments do not act now, the World Bank report Decarbonizing Development: Three Steps to a Zero Carbon Future emphasises the need for fossil fuel subsidies to be eliminated, a price to be put on carbon, and to avoid decisions that lock in soon-to-be-obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure.
Countries can put their economies on a pathway to zero emissions, according to the World Bank.
But action to get there has to start now, says the report.
Rachel Kyte’s, the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change said:
Choices made today can lock in emissions trajectories for years to come and leave communities vulnerable to climate impacts.
The new report aims to be a guide for policymakers in both developed and developing countries to put them on the path to a “zero-carbon future.”
The report calls on government to plan for the long-term and avoid quick fixes that could undermine the end coal, such as swapping coal for gas.
It also calls for a price on carbon alongside other policies to encourage changes in investment and behaviour and for help for those negatively affected by the energy transition.
While greater ambition is needed universally, countries like Germany and France are moving in the right direction and providing valuable templates for the transition to clean energy economies.
California and Hawaii understand the benefits such a transition holds, even if the US government is pretending it can continue to support fossils.
Meanwhile, countries like Canada, Australia and Japan are keen to talk up their inadequate promises to reduce emissions, but are pushing for greater coal use that will lock in even more fossil infrastructure and blow the global carbon budget.
And while China remains a coal behemoth, the tide there is beginning to turn.
The world’s biggest emitter installed more wind and solar in 2014 than it did coal while continuing to scale back its reliance on the dirty fuel, as demonstrated by the recently announced plan to shut down more than 1,200 coal mines.
According to the World Bank, putting low-carbon infrastructure in place and setting long-term climate goals needs to happen now to set up a successful outcome at the year-end climate talks in Paris.