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Regenerative Earth Decade: 100% Renewables are only the beginning

A new era in the history of humanity has now begun, with a new phase in the fossil-fuelled transformation of the Arctic.

At the end of October the Russian-Swedish group of scientists on the research vessel R/V Akademik Keldysh reported unprecedented amounts of methane found rising in the Laptev Sea to depths of 350 meters along a 150-kilometer-long and 10-kilometer-wide strip of the continental slope 600 kilometers from the East Siberian coast. This is further evidence that the process may have begun to wake up some or all of the 1400 gigatons of carbon still bound in methane hydrates on the sea floor. This, combined with the permafrost melt means the rising risk of an abrupt climate change. This mechanism has long been known. Yet almost nothing has been done to stop it. Fossil energy consumption continues to rise, renewables are being slowed down.

Now it is time to unleash the Regenerative Age.

This is a time for highest but constructive alarm. Aimless panic is not called for, but a completely unprecedented readiness for a rising risk of large and rapid changes, and concomitant immediate emergency measures to avoid the worst. For all those who still nurture hope of preserving life on earth, there is no alternative to end the burning of all fossil resources immediately – coal, natural gas and oil. In view of the unprecedented, clear and immediate threat, all central energy systems, including those based on nuclear resources, must be dismantled and replaced now, in a mobilization of all regenerative resources for a decentralized and fully renewable supply. Earlier but still dominant concepts, such as targets for – further emitting and polluting – ‚climate neutrality‘ are inadequate and over periods of 20 to 30 years are far too long in view of current climate dynamics. Not only have CO2 concentrations already risen to a 150% excess level, from 280 to over 415 ppm: methane concentrations are already three times higher than climate stability depended on over the past megayear, having risen from 600 to 1900 ppb. Temperature increase targets should be zero above preindustrial times. Even less known than the large and rising methane surpluses is the loss of oxygen from the atmosphere and oceans due to fossil fuel combustion and heating, respectively, in a process known as deoxygenation.

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Much more powerful methods are needed than those currently used in Germany, Europe and worldwide at cabinet and parliamentary levels: one that is tantamount to a general mobilization.

This includes the requirements and concepts of this 10-point plan:

1. The introduction of a climate defense budget for the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and a switch to renewable energies – this may account for at least five to ten percent of the gross national product, this would be four to eight times the current defense budget of the German Federal Republic.

2. The introduction of climate emergency diplomacy, that of ending wars and acts of war, in the common interest in the fight for survival – against the common enemy of global warming. This includes a European and worldwide climate migration management plan: billions of fellow human beings will be forced to migrate very soon.

3. The targeted restructuring of fossil industries: through technical substitution programs, the elimination of structural subsidies and, where necessary, structural measures such as transformation assistance – as well as the immediate dismantling of the massive regulatory blocking for renewable grids, storage and distribution systems – supported by the New Energy Market Order.

4. The replacement of jobs in the fossil industries by prioritized structural reforms towards renewable industries.

5. The redefinition of emission targets. Climate neutrality is not enough, but even so-called zero emission targets relative to 1990 alone are insufficient – the baseline year must be before the industrial age. The global economy needs strategies that are suitable for reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

6. The classification of fossil resources as toxic: their extraction and distribution should become prohibited or at least highly taxed after a short transition period.

7. The rapid development and regeneration of healthy, climate-active agricultural soils, wetlands and forests.

8. The transformation of the construction industry and all industries and manufactories into carbon-sequestration processes. This demands the large-scale conversion of atmospheric CO2 into wood, carbon fibers and other solid carbon products.

9. Taking full advantage of unprecedented productivity and innovation gains to massively expand high-quality employment opportunities for all citizens, existing and new migrants.

10. A new financing mechanism is needed that rewards long-term investments such as defossilization, agricultural reform and afforestation with higher returns than short-term ones. This calls for ‘Future Banks’ that create special currencies with negative interest rates, thus incentivizing spending tied to sustainable products and services.

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EUROSOLAR demands a focusing and tightening of the European Green Deal, away from mere climate neutrality to 100% renewable energies, carbon sequestering agriculture, reforestation with drought-resistant forests and the repurposing of the European Circular Economy guidelines into economy-wide carbon sequestration laws. The goal must be a climate-positive, emissions-negative Europe, based on a short-term 100% energy target realised by 2030, with practical, ever closer implementation horizons. For this there is no lack of available political tools, such as a bold new energy feed-in law, renewable energy technologies and many other successful examples: EUROSOLAR has been celebrating them for decades in its Solar Prize ceremonies and disseminating them in Solar City, Storage and many other conferences. The target of 2050 based on a ’net-zero‘ emissions calculation is too late, too little, and too much based on emissions trading as well as unsustainable and conventional technologies.

We need you to help us advance this agenda boldly.

Please support EUROSOLARs ! RED ALERT ! Call for an unprecedented and urgently needed Renewable Decade, in which the complete supply of renewable energy is the minimum requirement. It will make our economy more resilient and socially acceptable in a sustainable way – in a courageous manner. With publications focused on civic, legal and institutional innovations, policy instruments and events, EUROSOLAR has been working since 1988 for the rapid turnaround into the ecological Solar Age.

Your donation of 10, 20, 50, 100 or more Euros helps us in a very concrete way to make 2020 the year of the beginning of the decade of regeneration, together with our many active partners. Please support our work in a more sustained manner with a membership from as little as 25 euros per year for young people, and 65 for adults.

The Call for the Decade of Regeneration builds on EUROSOLAR’s founder, history, mission, and statutes, which were developed and adopted at the 2020 February meeting of the Association’s Board of Directors at the European level.

Professor Peter Droege, President, EUROSOLAR