Photo of Sir David Attenborough. Credit to Johann Edwin Heupel on Flickr.
By Katie Morrey
With the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris happening this December, high-profile scientists and leaders from around the world including Sir David Attenborough, Lord O’Donnell (Former Cabinet Secretary), Peter Bakker (President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development) and Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever) have all signed a letter addressed to leading nations backing The Global Apollo Program (GAP). It aims to make renewable energy cheaper than energy from fossil fuels by co-ordinating a 10-year international project to bring together the best minds and discover breakthrough clean technology.
One of the supporters of the program, Lord O’Donnell has said, “The Global Apollo Programme lays out what needs to be done to meet the world’s increasing demand for affordable, secure and sustainable energy.”
The letter emphasises the financial benefits of sustainable energy stating it would “provide economic benefits to the nations of the world”. This will be a key element in any deals made by the leading nations at this year’s COP21 conference. The GAP is publically funded research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of technological progress in the generation of energy from renewables, electricity storage and distribution of that energy.
At the present funding for renewable energy projects gets less than 2% of the world’s publically funded RD&D, however, the letter calls for governments to invest “at least $15 billion a year” for the next 10 years of the project. “That compares to the $100 billion currently invested in defence R&D globally each year.” Previous publically funded projects have given rise to some of the 21st century’s most valuable assets like the internet and smartphones. The GAP wants to give sustainable energy the same focus as these other technological leaps, taking its name from the Apollo Moon Missions in the 60’s where minds were brought together to bring about incredible advances.
The project aims to capitalise on the sun’s energy, which provides the earth with 5000 times more energy than the human race needs. In the GAP’s informational video, they use the example of having fields of photovoltaic panels in deserts, with that power being stored cheaply and effectively in batteries for months on end.
One of the biggest backers of The Global Apollo Program is Sir David Attenborough, who also made a video supporting the program. In his video, he emphasises that a “coordinated international 10-year program will meet these challenges”. The GAP is a positive and practical way to halt climate change and make clean energy cheaper. The GAP hopes that this will keep fossil fuels in the ground and stop carbon dioxide levels reaching above the critical level for a 2oc temperature increase, the target set by nations in 2010, as an acceptable level of atmospheric temperature rise.
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