Powering the Future
We cannot continue to burn our way to prosperity. The only way to minimize the risks of dangerous climate change is by ensuring that energy is sustainable. We need an energy revolution. We need energy not only to be universal, [we] need it to be clean, to be sustainable. – Ban Ki-moon
Climate change presents one of the greatest challenges that has ever faced human civilization, but we have some very good news. Not only are the solutions to available today, but implementing them now will save us billions of dollars in energy costs, while improving the health and wellbeing of generations to come.
The key is Energy — how we make it and where we waste it. Right now, more than 62% of ALL carbon pollution comes from our energy use & transportation (see below). This pollution, referred to as CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents) is heating up the atmosphere and causing severe impacts like extreme weather and drought. But it can be reversed.
The solution is two-fold: First, reducing energy consumption through energy efficiency measures. And second, replacing fossil fuel sources of energy — like coal, oil, and natural gas — with clean, renewable energy sources like solar power and wind power. The latest research shows that by 2050, we could in fact reduce 95% of our carbon pollution from the energy sector by adopting these and other measures:
So the good news is the biggest global warming culprit — fossil fuel energy — can be replaced with clean energy alternatives and energy efficiency measures in time to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. This would account for close to 60% mitigation of our total annual CO2e emissions. But what about the other 40%?
It’s clear in the above chart that sustainable land use is also key. Agriculture* and Land Use changes (in particular deforestation) are together responsible for another 31% of total carbon pollution. So it is critical that we create sustainable development pathways that will protect “carbon sinks” like tropical forests while providing healthier, less resource-intensive ways to produce food for the planet’s 7 billion people.
Learn about specific climate solutions and get related news by clicking on the links below:
- Solar Power
- Wind Power
- Smart Super Grid
- Transportation 2.0
- Energy Efficiency
- Low-carbon Cities
- Carbon Storage
- Price on Carbon
- Green Business
- Personal Action
* Note: pollution from agriculture directly accounts for approximately 13% of total CO2e emissions, but when one factors in land use changes for agricultural purposes (clearing forests to make crop lands), processing, packaging and shipping of food, the number could be considerably higher.
For a more detailed accounting of World Greenhouse Gas Emissions see the report by the World Resources Institute report (PDF) based on 2005 data. Click to enlarge: