After two centuries of burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases at an exponentially increasing rate, the earth’s climate is changing. Human-induced warming is disrupting a number of natural systems that we depend on.
Predictions are that a temperature increase above 2°C is almost inevitable, and with that will come more extreme weather events, sea level rises, precipitation changes, disappearing coral reefs and ocean acidification. International climate change negotiations are not delivering sufficiently on the challenge to avoid catastrophic climate change, which make accelerated investments in solutions by business, financial institutions, countries and cities even more crucial.
It is clear that renewables must assume the full share of the global energy supply market to avoid 2°C global warming whilst preventing major water pollution, hazardous waste for generations, poor human health, proliferation of nuclear weapons and unnecessarily high costs.
WWF’s Energy Report shows that all of the world’s energy needs can be provided cleanly and renewably by 2050, in ways that can be sustained by the global economy and the planet, and that such a transition is not only possible but cost-effective. Such an energy transition must put energy savings at the core which is also proven necessary in the latest reports from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Energy Agency, UN Environmental Programme and others.
Solutions exist and can be enacted with the right combination of political, social and financial will. But the major innovation challenges ahead include the acceleration of business models that take solutions to market and the continuous cost-cutting of key technologies. We must deliver energy services in much more innovative ad smarter ways in a future of decentralised sustainable energy rather than the current centralised unsustainable energy.
In order to accelerate progress we need to look at the conditions surrounding our large and small solution providers. We will need to see a wide range of innovative cleantech solutions quickly scale up over the next 10-30 years. Agencies, governments, investors and business need to proactively collaborate as forces for change in transitioning towards a sustainable energy future on a global level.
Understanding these innovation processes is important in order to accelerate increase of the “good” as a complement to the establishment of national climate targets and carbon caps that address a more rapid decrease of the “bad.”
Tracking the innovation activity of smaller cleantech disruptors that carry the hope of enabling a shift to more good solutions is the impetus for the Global Cleantech Innovation Index 2014 which is published today. The index demonstrates that countries get ahead if they
- are able to adapt to the growing demand for renewable energy (at home and abroad),
- are connecting start-ups with multiple channels (e.g. multinational corporates, public procurement) to increase their success rates ” and
- are increasing international engagement to spur widespread adoption of clean technologies.
Together we must help enterprises with pieces to the 100% renewable energy future puzzle to grow more rapidly. And around the world we must join hands in creating a more attractive future for all and be clear to decision-makers that we are ready and able to do so.
Stefan Henningsson is a senior advisor on climate innovation for WWF International. Stefan is based in Stockholm, Sweden.