A historic task holds us all responsible. The virus SARS-CoV-2 has the world on edge. Massive international action is being taken to contain the epidemic and prevent it from infecting a global economy that was booming until recently. But the fossil pandemic is far more dangerous than that.
It must be fought with even greater determination. The fossil virus has been rampant for many decades. It has killed millions upon millions of people and caused immeasurable suffering - both in nature and in our constructed world. The fever of fossil-fuelled global warming continues to gather pace unchecked: Decades of appeasement, too few half-hearted legal regulations and the active braking of containment measures - such as Germany's derailment of its original energy revolution - are now showing their fatal effects.
For all those who still hope to preserve life on earth, there is no alternative to ending the burning of all fossil resources - coal, natural gas and oil - in the short term. In view of the unprecedented, immediate threat, all central systems, especially those based on nuclear resources, must be dismantled and immediately replaced in a mobilization of all renewable resources for a decentralized renewable fuel supply. Previous measures, such as targets for 'climate neutrality' within 20 to 30 years have become completely inadequate.
Much more effective methods are needed, similar to general mobilisation. Can we learn from the Covid-19 mobilisation as a test run for the long overdue, almost criminally neglected regenerative general mobilisation?
These much needed methods include:
- the introduction of a climate defence budget for the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and a switch to renewable energies - this should amount to at least 5 to 10 percent of the gross national product, 4 to 8 times our current defence budget;
- the targeted restructuring of fossil industries: through technical substitution programmes, the elimination of structural subsidies and, where necessary, structural measures such as financial aid;
- the rapid dismantling of the massively blocking regulations for renewable networks, storage and distribution systems;
- the replacement of jobs in fossil industries by prioritised structural reforms towards renewable industries;
- the redefinition of emission targets. Climate neutrality is not enough, but even so-called zero emission targets alone are no longer sufficient. The global economy needs strategies that are suitable for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere;
- the classification of fossil resources as toxic: their extraction and distribution should be sanctioned after a short transition period
In this sense, EUROSOLAR supports a European climate law - but on the basis of a short-term 100% energy target by 2030, with practical, even closer implementation horizons, for which there is no lack of available political tools such as a convincing energy feed-in law, renewable energy technologies and successful examples: EUROSOLAR has been celebrating them for decades in the context of the Solar Prize awards and has disseminated them in Solar City, Storage and many other conferences. The target of 2050 based on a 'net-zero' emissions calculation is too late, too feeble and too much focused on emissions trading and non-portable and conventional technologies.
The present and the future need to be managed
Fossil destruction is visible everywhere - from the disappearance of bumblebees from our gardens to the suffocation of our oceans through their heating and CO2-induced acidification. Over a billion creatures have died in Australia's climate fires over the turn of the year 2019/2020 alone. For months, fires of unprecedented dimensions raged across the fifth continent: more than 120,000 square kilometres fell victim to the flames. Blazing Australia was only the last link in a chain of fire disasters that are increasingly affecting different parts of the world.
The spreading fires are not only a symptom of the advancing fossil fuel-fired global warming, they also fuel it themselves, as they account for an ever-increasing proportion of the CO2-emissions emitted into the Earth's atmosphere. It is not only the CO2-emissions that are increasing there: Methane concentrations - mostly still from non-geological fossil sources - are already two and a half times higher than necessary for a stable climate. Even more concealed than the methane surplus is the removal of oxygen from the atmosphere, the deoxygenation.
This massive problem is a direct legacy of fossil energy combustion: currently, fossil energy combustion destroys about 40 gigatons of oxygen per year. This development now becomes even more problematic in face of the dying and burning forests and the destruction of phytoplankton. The oxygen concentration in the atmosphere is decreasing slightly and steadily - and now there are strong signs that this development is accelerating. A solution must be found, and it involves the rapid, albeit belated, ending of fossil pyromania and the strengthening of biogenic oxygen production.
Covid-19 and its impact on the fossil-fuelled global economy also brings to light the problems that fossil dependence has brought us: Reduced economic output leads to less air pollution. Cleaner air means more solar radiation, which in the short term can lead to a possible local doubling of the post-industrial temperature increase of at least 1.3 degrees Celsius on average - overland in Europe it is already twice as high today. This illustrates the elementary importance of combining the conversion of energy systems with measures that strongly reduce CO2-emissions in the soil and construction industries.
In Germany and elsewhere, there has long been talk of climate adaptation. But how do you adapt to your own destruction? The fossil-fuelled 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 organisations, in 2016 some 23,000 people lost their lives prematurely due to air pollution from coal-fired power generation. Positive, regenerative actions are effective and demonstrably concrete: Following the entry into force of the EU directive on industrial emissions, almost 12,000 premature deaths were avoided in 2016.
Encourager: Mobilisation for climate stability
All these facts allow only one conclusion: if we do not want to fail in the protection of all living beings for whom we are responsible, and but want to ensure the survival of our own species, unprecedented, never-before imagined efforts are necessary, which are tantamount to rapid mobilization against the existential threat. Concrete steps through a rapidly conceived emergency mobilisation and the financing of renewable energies, an end to fossil subsidies, structural changes in the energy sector and targeted social transformations towards a regenerative world cannot be postponed.
Support EUROSOLARs RED ALERT! Call for an unprecedented and urgently needed Renewable Decade, in which the complete supply of renewable energies is the minimum requirement. It will make our economy more resilient and our society more sustainable. With citizen-oriented publications, legal and institutional innovations, policy instruments and events, EUROSOLAR has been committed to the rapid transition into the solar age since 1988.
Your donation of 10, 20, 50, 100 or more Euros will help us to make 2020 the beginning of the Decade of Regeneration, together with our many active partners. You can also support our work long term and become a member, starting from as little as 25 Euros per year.
Prof. Peter Droege, President EUROSOLAR e.V., European Association for Renewable Energies, March 2020
The Call for the Decade of Regeneration builds on EUROSOLAR's founder, history, mission and statutes were developed and adopted at the February meeting of the Association's Board of Directors at the European level.
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