May 2, 2019

Renewables and Rainforest | UK Climate Emergency declared

2019 must be the year when climate change concerns become climate change actions.

On May 1st, a Climate Emergency was declared in the UK. This means more resources will be put in place to take further action on helping reduce carbon emissions.

But if these actions are to combat climate breakdown, they must be backed by far-reaching and effective plans for reducing carbon emissions, both in the UK and abroad.

Put simply, the core of all plans must focus on scaling up renewable energy and protecting tropical forests.

To avoid catastrophic climate change we must limit warming to 1.8°C by the end of the century. This means global emissions output must not exceed 34 gigatons of CO2 equivalent by 2030.

In 2018 they hit an all-time high of 37.1 gigatons.

Large rainforest tree trunk

The three biggest potential annual reductions in emissions are solar energy (3 to 6 gigatons potential), wind energy (2.6 to 4.1 gigatons) and reduced deforestation (3 gigatons)1. Proven, affordable approaches, these areas are key in that they can be quickly scaled-up.

Climate positive decisions are becoming bolder and the new normal is much better for the planet.

Think back 20 years. Renewable energy was around, but was far from common. But since then, we’ve all seen how quickly society, technology and consumer expectations can develop and renewables become part of our every day. Now, the amount of renewable energy being produced is far outstripping even the most hopeful predictions. The cumulative capacity of solar installations in the US alone has grown by 4,645% in the last ten years2. The price for lithium-ion batteries has fallen 73% since 2010 meaning electric cars are becoming much more affordable. In fact, 29% of cars in Norway already have plugs.

It’s now time to protect rainforest, one of our greatest natural stores of carbon and our safety net against climate change. And it is down to all of us worldwide to support rainforest communities to keep their trees standing.

Rainforest doesn’t have 20 years for society to decide to stop destroying rainforest.

The negative effects of deforestation are already being felt too keenly to ignore. A recent study3 found that the average hottest day of the year in Europe, North America and Asia has been made significantly more intense as a result of deforestation. With swathes of forest half the size of England lost every year4, the time to act is now.

Rainforest canopy, Awajún Peru

A UN Emissions Report5 recently showed that accomplishing zero emissions from deforestation by 2020 is key if we want to achieve the long-term goals of emission reduction. It also proposes necessary steps including using science to guide targets, scaling up existing solutions rapidly, and encouraging optimism. Three things that Cool Earth is all about.

The renewable energy revolution has changed our daily lives, for the better. Now is the time to get behind stopping deforestation and because it doesn’t require any new technology or investment, it can be done right now. By keeping trees standing we can prevent billions of tonnes of carbon emissions, and bridge the gap between today and a carbon-neutral future.

  1. UNEP, 2017, The Emissions Gap Report 2017

  2. Bloomberg New Energy Finance

  3. Nature, 2018: Historical deforestation locally increased the intensity of hot days in northern mid-latitude

  4. National Geographic – Deforestation

  5. UN, Emissions Gap Report, 2017


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