Last month, I attended the much-awaited IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) press conference in Abu Dhabi, during which members of the IPCC working committee announced and commented on the results of their supposedly groundbreaking report on renewables.
However, although the 1,000-page report, compiled by a team of 120 renewable energy experts, is by all means the most comprehensive and systematic study on renewable energy potential and challenges to date, it doesn’t seem to contribute much to providing concrete solutions to the current economic, political and social renewable energy barriers.
“The IPCC doesn’t have the mandate to suggest specific policies,” pointed out Professor Ottman Edenhofer, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.
This might be part of the reason why, although acknowledging that transition to a zero-carbon emission economy will not be possible without implementing adequate regulatory changes, the IPCC fails to provide more defined guidelines.
“There is no one-size-fits-all policy for encouraging renewables,” the report summary says.
It, however, has the merit to highlight an often-overlooked truth: renewable energy doesn’t only provide environmental benefits, but it might also contribute to sustainable social development by increasing energy access in developing countries and guaranteeing security of supply.
During the conference’s Q&A session, a journalist from Japan’s NHK TV network asked how the Fukushima nuclear disaster had affected renewable energy policies.
Needless to say, an awkward silence fell upon the panel of experts, who, minutes earlier, had praised the benefits of nuclear power as part of a balanced energy mix.
They explained that the report had been completed before the Fukushima disaster had struck and, in any case, the assessment of nuclear energy was outside the scope of the study, which only looked at renewable energy sources.
By saying so, they had avoided answering a question that, since March 11, is on many people’s minds and will continue to stay there if left unanswered.
In this issue, we have provided you with some of the answers in our special report on nuclear.
We hope that, although our special report is only a limited view of a topic that has not right or wrong answer, it has managed to shed some light on a complex yet fascinating subject, heavily embedded with social, political and economic implications.