Wind, water, sun!
No, we’re not talking about the powers you need to activate to call on Captain Planet. We’re talking about energy sources that scientists believe will be powering 139 countries by 2050.
After analyzing countries’ energy data, a group of researchers have created an ambitious plan for nearly 140 countries to fully transition to clean, renewable energy by 2050. The 139 countries the study focuses on account for around 99% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, a major factor in global warming, according to Spectrum magazine.
The study, published in the energy research journal Joule, creates roadmaps for each of the 139 countries and prioritizes the expansion of current renewable energy programs over the building of brand new facilities, when possible, according to NBC. The team of researchers created specific roadmaps for countries with a diverse range of resources and constraints from big countries like Brazil, China, India, and the US to much smaller ones like Ireland and Singapore.
“What I find most exciting about the results of this study is that every country that we examined has sufficient resources to power itself, although in the case of a couple of tiny countries with very high populations, this might require either importing energy from their neighbor or using an unusually high amount of offshore energy,” Mark Jacobson, the study’s lead said.
The roadmaps “describe a future where all energy sectors are electrified or use heat directly with existing technology, energy demand is lower due to several factors, and the electricity is generated with 100% wind, water and sunlight,” the research team said.
Jacobson and his team previously produced a similar roadmap specifically focusing on the US, which prompted fierce scientific debate about the feasibility of his plan — but the team stood by their work and created the 100% renewables movement.
The roadmaps detail countries’ transitions from traditional energy sources like fossil fuels to solar, wind, and water generated sources. It includes steps like transitioning to solar power plants and relying more heavily on offshore and onshore wind turbines to power homes and vehicles, according to the Independent.
Jacobson noted that the efforts of individual people as well as politicians are necessary for his team’s vision to become a reality. But getting 139 out of the world’s 193 countries to completely switch to clean and renewable energy could significantly decrease the rate of global warming and reduce the number of annual deaths connected with air pollution, according to Spectrum magazine.
“Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” he said.
Although President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris climate accord earlier this year, there is still hope. Last month, California passed a bill that includes a plan for the state to exclusively use renewable energy by 2045 and the UK announced its plan to ban new diesel and gas cars by 2040.
If countries use the roadmaps laid out in Jacobson’s studies, the positive impact could be huge. Not only could it reduce global energy consumption and help combat climate change, but the further development of the renewable energy sector could create millions of sustainable jobs, according to Science Daily.
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