Science academies call for climate action
“Our present energy course is not sustainable,” says the statement, signed by leaders of the respective science academies. Energy demand will increase greatly with economic growth in developing countries, and responding to this demand while addressing climate change will require “all the determination and ingenuity we can muster,” it adds.
“The problem is not yet insoluble, but becomes more difficult with each passing day,” say the scientists, putting forth an action plan which recommends investment in energy efficiency as a first step towards a sustainable energy future.
“Urgent” investment in energy efficiency should concentrate on the following common strategic priorities, says the statement: sustainable buildings; efficient transport and alternative fuels; Modern power technology to make conventional fuels more efficient; electrical appliances; and measures to “create the conditions and opportunities for energy consumers to use energy more efficiently”.
After the “first crucial step” of increasing energy efficiency, a variety of solutions are advocated: the substitution of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources, clean coal technologies, carbon capture and storage and advanced exploitation of nuclear fission and, in the longer term, fusion.
According to the academies, this portfolio of solutions can only be brought forth through aggressive investment in research, development and innovation. Key research and innovation issues include: overcoming the intermittency problem for renewables, converting biomass (eg. lignocellulose) to transport fuels, and coming to grips with the challenges of safety, waste, and non-proliferation in the nuclear energy domain.
“We call on all countries of the world to cooperate in identifying common strategic objectives for sustainable, efficient and climate friendly energy systems, and in implementing actions toward them,” concludes the statement. The groups note that the G8 countries bear a “special responsibility” for energy consumption and climate change, which newly industrialized countries will share in the future.
The statement ends with a call to world leaders, “especially those meeting at the G8 Summit in June 2007,” to:
- Set standards and promote economic instruments for efficiency, and commit to promoting energy efficiency for buildings, devices, motors, transportation systems and in the energy sector itself.
- Promote understanding of climate and energy issues and encourage necessary behavioural changes within our societies.
- Define and implement measures to reduce global deforestation.
- Strengthen economic and technological exchange with developing countries, in order to leapfrog to cleaner and more efficient modern technologies.
- Invest strongly in science and technology related to energy efficiency, zero-carbon energy resources and carbon-removing technologies.
The joint statement of national science academies can be read here (PDF).
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