By Kelsey Simpkins
Mitigating climate change by significantly reducing carbon emissions this decade will require big transitions in all sectors, from energy and transportation to construction and industry. But significant reductions in global emissions are possible, and the payoffs will be far-reaching, experts say.
Affordable electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind could provide 65% of the world’s total electricity supply by 2030 and remove 90% of carbon emissions from the power sector by 2050, according to the United Nations.
With the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by up to 70% globally by 2050—and in the process improve the health of the planet and its people.
“It won’t be easy, but we have done this before, when we first built out the grid,” said Martin Keller, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and president of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, the company that operates NREL for the US Department of Energy.
The global transition to clean energy will require a new level of collaboration by many diverse sectors, creating both challenges and win-wins, he said. Meanwhile, meeting increased demand for clean energy would kick-start economies and improve equality and equity around the world.
“New technology can not only be a tremendous opportunity for rural communities and underserved communities here in the US, but for many other countries this can be a new way for them to build out their opportunities,” said Keller, who will join the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit at CU Boulder as a panelist on Day 3: Solutions. “We have to make sure that in the energy transition, we bring everybody along.”
Here's a snapshot of shifts underway, and the promise they hold: