EUROSOLAR on worldwide climate emergency: Call for the decade of regeneration

For climate stabilization with 100% renewable energies: The new Corona Virus has kept the world in suspense for weeks. Massive international measures are being taken to contain the pandemic and prevent it from infecting a booming global economy. Almost one thousand people have fallen victim to it so far, and several hundred thousand people may already be infected.

However, the fossil pandemic is far more dangerous, yet it is being battled much less resolutely. The fossil virus has been rampant for many decades, killing millions of people and causing immeasurable damage both in nature and in the world we built. The fever of fossil-fuelled global warming continues to accelerate unhindered: Ignored for many years, prompting too few and half-hearted measures – and even facing sabotaging attempts at containment like Germany's original energy transition – now show their fatal effects.

For anyone who still hopes to preserve life on earth, there is no alternative to ending the burning of all fossil resources in a targeted and short-term manner. In view of the unprecedented, immediate threat, all central energy systems, especially those based on atomic resources, must be dismantled and replaced by mobilizing all regenerative resources for a decentralized full renewable supply.

The Renewable Energy Act (EEG) made great progress 15 years ago when this progress could have allowed emissions to be adjusted more slowly. The opportunity began to be wasted in its very cradle nation, Germany, from 2012 with the deliberate deformation of the EEG. Previous measures such as targets for – further emitting – 'climate neutrality' in the far too distant periods of 20-30 years (given the accelerating climate dynamics) are completely inadequate today.

Much more powerful methods are required, similar to general mobilization, including:

• The introduction of a Climate Defense Budget for the rapid exit from fossil energies and switch to renewable energies - this should make up at least 5-10% of the gross national product, a four to eight times current defence budgets – which in the interest of international cooperation and a focus on the common, existential enemy should be jointly reduced;

• Fossil industries are to be restructured in a targeted manner, through technical substitution programs, the elimination of subsidies and, where justified, government aid measures from transformation aid to acquisitions of fossil plants for the purpose of decommissioning them;

• The rapid dismantling of the massive regulatory obstacles for renewable networks, storage and distributive systems;

• Jobs are to be innovated and substituted by prioritized structural reforms and subsidized retraining measures in regenerative industries;

• Emission targets have to be completely redefined. Climate neutrality is not enough, but so-called zero emissions targets alone, too, are no longer enough. The German, European and global economy needs strategies that are suitable for reducing the current GHG concentrations in the atmosphere.

• Fossil resources have to be declared toxic, with legal expiry or amnesty periods set.

The present and the immediate future require coping mechanisms

The evidence of fossil destruction is unmistakable – everywhere, from the for some seemingly insignificant extinction of the bumblebees in our gardens to the suffocation of our oceans – and their growing anoxic zones caused by global heating and CO2 prompted acidification.

Over a billion living beings died alone in the climate fires of Australia over the turn of 2019/2020. For months, unprecedented fires raged on the fifth continent: more than 120,000 square kilometres of communities, farms, forests and heath, a size of one third of Germany - fell victim to the flames. Burning Australia is only the last link in a chain of fire disasters that affect most continents more and more.

Climate heating as a result of the pyromania and feedback effect

The spreading fires are not only a symptom of the advancing fossil-fuelled climate warming; they also fuel them themselves, because they account for an ever larger proportion of the human CO2 emissions into the earth's atmosphere.

However, our governments do not rethink, or do it much too slowly, neither in Australia nor here in Germany – the political leaders’ heads are stuck in the proverbial tar sand. Canberra makes no move to deviate from the coalition policy of the leading party coalition. Last summer, one of the largest coal mines in the world was provisionally approved, one of many new fossil plants. The Indian company Adani, financed by taxpayers, is to develop the world's largest coal mine here, directly on the Great Barrier Reef, which is bleaching due to the fossil climate catastrophe. One of the largest German corporations is also involved: Siemens boss Joe Kaeser does not want to drop Adani’s large Carmichael coal mine project despite enormous public pressure. In doing so, he questions the credibility of his company which promotes climate neutrality by 2030.

Complicity and its effects

Around the globe, there has been a lot of talk about climate adaptation. But how do you adapt to your own annihilation? The fossil behaviour of our economy has created conditions in which everything we know threatens to perish.

According to the study “Lifting Europe's Dark Cloud” by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and other organizations, around 23,000 people lost their lives prematurely in 2016 due to air pollution from coal-fired power generation alone. Positive, regenerative actions are effective and demonstrably concrete: after the entry into force of the EU directive on industrial emissions, almost 12.00 premature deaths could be avoided in 2016.

The fossil effects can also be clearly quantified beyond their human costs. As early as 2018, the German Farmers' Association registered an agricultural loss of six tons per hectare – 18 percent less than in the previous year for wheat, barley and oat alone. The potato harvest has dropped by 25%. German farmers demanded one billion Euros in compensation. The real threat, however, is mass starvation, also here in Europe.

A policy of fossil energies, as has been practiced so far despite much lip service paid to climate action, is also devastating for the economy. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in a sustainable and future-oriented industry have fallen victim to a cynical fossil fuel lobby policy in Germany since 2010. Neither goals nor methods of the Paris Climate Agreement or the European Green Deal are close enough to face these challenges. The Federal Republic's climate strategy can only be described as further climate-heating.

Actions to encourage: Mobilization for stabilization of the climate

These facts on their own can be debilitating – but allow only one conclusion. If we do not wish to fail to protect the billions of living beings for whom we are responsible, and do not want to fail to ensure the survival of our own species, then entirely unprecedented and uncompromising efforts are necessary to match the rapid mobilization against major existential threats. Taking concrete steps, through a rapidly conceived emergency mobilization and financing of renewable energies, ending fossil subsidies, structural conversion measures in the energy sector and targeted social transformations and adjustments towards a regenerative world cannot be postponed.

Support EUROSOLAR's call for an unprecedented and urgently needed Renewable Decade, in which the complete supply of renewable energy is the minimum requirement. It will not only make our economy more resilient in the long term, but also make it socially acceptable – in a way that encourages and secures the future. EUROSOLAR has been developing policy proposals, legislation, events and even institutions – from the German “EEG” to IRENA – for more than 30 years. We have also collected and published hundreds of successful examples in books, magazines, conferences and our annual solar awards.

We use this wealth of energy and experience, together with our companions, to make the journey towards a renewable world. Your donation of 10, 20, 50, 100 or more Euros will help us to make 2020 the year of the beginning of the Decade of Regeneration, together with our many active partners.

 Prof. Peter Droege, President EUROSOLAR e.V., February 2020

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