Post-pandemic packages could provide the perfect opportunity to green up our energy systems for environmental and economic benefit. In June of 1993, Germany’s energy companies took out a series of newspaper adverts. Their message was a grim, possibly self-serving, prediction, that sun, wind and water power would only ever meet four per cent of the country’s needs. Now over half of Germany’s electricity comes from renewable sources, although there has been more scepticism along the way. “In 2002 I was told by two engineers that renewables could never provide more than 10 per cent of electricity in Germany,” says Jan Rosenow, director of European programmes at the Regulatory Assistance Project, an independent organisation aimed at accelerating the clean energy transition. “In the first quarter of 2020 it was 51.9 per cent.” The very notion of a renewables-dependent grid was considered by many engineers as “pipe dream”, says John Murton, the UK’s COP26 climate summit envoy. This week, Britain passed the landmark of burning no coal to generate power for a full two months. A decade ago, about 40 per cent of the country’s electricity came from coal. During lockdown, as much as 30 per cent of power has come from renewables. Research led by Oxford University and economists Nicholas Stern and Joseph Stiglitz shows green projects create more jobs, deliver higher short-term returns and lead to increased long-term cost savings compared to traditional fiscal stimulus. “Green fiscal recovery packages can act to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions and reduce existing welfare inequalities that will be exacerbated by the pandemic in the short-term and climate change in the long-term,” says the study published in May 2020.
New Statesman 11th June 2020 read more »