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Energy Blue Print
Scenarios for a future energy supply

Moving from principles to action for energy supply that mitigates against climate change requires a long-term perspective. Energy infrastructure takes time to build up; new energy technologies take time to develop. Policy shifts often also need many years to take effect. In most world regions the transformation from fossil to renewable energies will require additional investment and higher supply costs over about twenty years

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Greenpeace & Senator Sanders: How to Solve Global Warming for Half the Cost and Twice the Jobs as Dirty Energy

March 11, 2009 WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Greenpeace, the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), and Dr. Joseph Romm of the Center for American Progress today released a report commissioned from the German Aerospace Center (the German equivalent of NASA) that shows how the United States can meet the energy needs of a growing economy and achieve science-based cuts in global warming pollution – without nuclear power or coal. The report, entitled “Energy [R]evolution,” is co-authored by Greenpeace and EREC and includes a foreword by Dr. R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report finds that off-the-shelf clean energy technology can cut U.S.carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels by at least 23 percent from current levels by 2020 and 85 percent by 2050 (equal to a 12 percent cut by 2020 and an 83 percent cut by 2050 from 1990 levels) – at half the cost and double the job-creation of what it would take to meet U.S. energy needs with dirty energy sources.

Throughout, the study makes conservative assumptions to ensure the real-world viability of the scenario. The report assumes that only currently available technologies will be used and no appliances or power plants will be retired prematurely, and adopts the same projections for population and economic growth included in the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook.

“Every day that we don’t deal with the crisis of global warming, it’s only going to get worse, it’s only going to get more costly, there’s only going to be more damage to our environment,” Sanders said. “This report shows that we can address climate change while improving our economy.  The time is now to move forward aggressively on energy efficiency and creating new sustainable energy and millions of good-paying jobs in the process.”

Based on the IPCC’s findings, developed countries as a group must reduce emissions by at least 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to minimize the risk of the worst impacts of global warming. In addition to the domestic emissions reductions in the energy sector, the Energy [R]evolution provides guidance on how the United States can achieve the IPCC’s targets by financing clean technology in the developing world. 

The domestic reduction goals set by the United States will have profound impacts on the commitments other countries are willing to undertake and on the prospects for a strong agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.  President Obama’s goals for near-term emissions reductions fall short of what the science shows is needed and what the Energy [R]evolution scenario demonstrates is achievable, putting U.S. promises of international leadership on climate at risk.

“What this report shows is that doing what science says is necessary won’t just provide the planet a living future, it actually will create far more jobs and save far more money than business as usual,” said Greenpeace Global Warming Campaign Director Steven Biel.  “And it will do it without exposing us to the unnecessary risks and pointless boondoggles that would come with any further investments in nuclear or coal.”

The blueprint details the specific technologies and timetables necessary to achieve these goals, such as:

  • By using the most energy efficient technologies, total primary energy demand will decline by 24 percent by 2050, while under the reference scenario demand will increase by 40 percent.
  • Renewable energy will grow from just 8.9 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2005 to 95.2 percent in 2050.
  • Electricity from nuclear, coal, and oil will be completely phased out by 2050.
  • The savings in fuel costs under the clean energy scenario is nearly double the additional up-front investment needed to end our reliance on fossil fuels.

The blueprint also details a mechanism for achieving the deep emission reductions called for by the IPCC by supporting rapid renewable energy uptake in developing countries.

“Not only is the Energy [R]evolution blueprint essential, it’s also realistic,” said Romm, the Editor-in-Chief of the Climate Progress blog and a former Assistant Secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration.

“In the best of worlds, we could go even further, but this report provides an invaluable baseline.”

To implement the Energy [R]evolution scenario, Greenpeace supports a strong cap on global warming pollution, an end to all fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies, mandatory efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings and appliances, binding targets for renewable energy generation and strong financial support for clean energy in developing countries.

"Unlike other energy scenarios that sacrifice the climate, our Energy [R]evolution scenario shows how to save money and maintain global economic development without fueling catastrophic climate change,” said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International's senior energy expert and co-author of the report. “All we need to kick start this plan is bold energy policy from world leaders."