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Economies that go 100% renewable could save $520 billion a year

Date
09 April 2015
Economies that go 100% renewable could save $520 billion a year

LONDON: Adopting targets to go 100% renewable could save the world’s biggest economies a combined US$520 billion each year according to a new report, a fact which is reflected in the growing number of businesses going 100% renewable in the US.

The finding comes from the New Climate Institute and Climate Action Network, which assessed the “missed benefits of countries’ national contributions” – the so-called INDCs – for the major economies China, US and Europe.

As well as sidestepping the high costs associated with imported fossil fuels by shifting to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050, these economies will also avoid the “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” the International Panel on Climate Change forecasts will happen if we increase global warming 2 Celsius degree above preindustrial levels.

The authors further explain how a 100% renewable energy economy will generate a combined total of 3 million new jobs. “This report proves once again that going 100% is good for the economy,” says Emily Farnworth, Campaign Director of RE100 at The Climate Group. “Technologies like wind and solar can not only save money in energy bills, but also make a good investment. Going 100% renewable just makes good business sense.”

US jobs

Image: Job creation from wind, solar and hydro energy in the US, from the report "Assessing the missed benefits of countries’ national contributions". Courtesy of the New Climate Institute

Proven benefits of RE100

Leading international companies are already grasping such economic benefits, thanks to The Climate Group program RE100. The initiative, aiming to commit 100 of the world’s largest companies to use 100% renewable power, is already proving the success of companies who have joined it.

“Investing in renewable energy is good for business, the economy and the planet,” Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group, remarks. “That’s why we’ve committed to match 100% of our energy use with our own renewable energy generation by 2020 and have allocated US$1.6 billion to take us closer to this goal. Every business can benefit from making the switch to clean, abundant energy and RE100 is a call to action to accelerate this transition.”

“RE100 is fully aligned with Nestlé’s explicit commitments,” says Claus Conzelmann, Vice President and Head of Safety, Health & Environmental Sustainability, Nestlé Group, “which reflect our respect for the society in which we operate, respect for the environment, and respect for future generations.”

“Climate change is a relevant risk for us as an insurer insuring against natural disasters,” Juerg TruebHead of Environmental and Commodity Markets, explains. “Climate change is not just about storms and other natural catastrophes. The impact of droughts on the agriculture sector relates to food security."

Spotlights on the US

The report indicates the total potential co-benefits of the 2 degrees compatible trajectory with 100% renewable energy, when compared to current policies trajectories, can save Europe US$170 billion and China US$190 billion. In particular, the US can save US$150 billion by following this pathway.

Many US companies are already pursuing this win-win solution. Intel tops a special leaderboard complied by the US Environmental Protection Agency, with 3,102 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of green energy used every year – representing the totality of the electricity use for its US operations.

Microsoft Corporation follows suit, powering all its US offices with 2,488 GWh of green energy. Also the department store chain Kohl's powers all its US operations with renewable energy, which powers an additional 13% of the operations in other countries – totaling 1,531 GWh. As for tech-giant Apple, its green power consumption reaches 92% of its US use, with more than 626 GWh.

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by Ilario D'Amato

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