A Really Simple Plan To Solve The Climate Emergency
A lot of work has been carried out preparing reports, such as the Institute of Welsh Affairs’ "Plan for Wales’ renewable energy future", and the Welsh Government’s "Low Carbon Wales" report with its 100 policies and proposals. But they all push the responsibility for solving the Climate Emergency onto businesses, communities and individuals. These policies might work in the very long term, but they will not be fast enough to stop the tipping point for climate disaster within 10 years.
The only way we can prevent disaster, is for governments to take responsibility now and take direct action.
And there is a really simple way they can do this.
At a Wales level
Welsh Government could invest the £1.4 billion, no longer allocated for the Newport M4 relief road, directly into solar panels and battery backup. Then sell the electricity generated, direct to consumers. The following year, reinvest the profit into additional solar panels and batteries. Repeat each year, building up more income and more panels.
By 2026 the current electricity requirement for Wales is generated renewably.
By 2047 the total energy consumption of Wales including electricity, heating and transport is generated renewably.
And the best bit for Welsh Government is that once the generation capacity has been reached, it will be receiving an additional £12bn per year in revenue from selling electricity. That’s an additional ¾ of the current Welsh Government budget.
At a County Council level
Welsh Local Government pensions schemes have collective investments of £15bn, currently invested mostly outside of Wales, including £1bn in fossil fuel companies. County Councils could invest their funds instead directly into solar panels and batteries which would enable the total energy consumption of Wales to be generated renewably by 2031. Additionally, the ongoing income provided would be 107 times more than the current pension fund provides.
At a UK level
We provide £10.5 billion per year in subsidies to fossil fuel companies . In times of Climate Emergency it is criminal for tax payers money to be used in that way. Repeat the same process – investing that amount in solar panels and batteries each year and re-investing the profits.
By 2027 you provide the whole UK current electricity supply renewably.
By 2041 you provide the total energy supply including heating, transport and aviation.
At a Worldwide level
The subsidies paid to fossil fuel companies are £500 billion a year. Invest that amount in solar panels and battery backup each year.
By 2032 you provide the entire world current electricity consumption renewably.
By 2045 you provide the entire world total energy consumption renewably, including heating, cooling, transport, shipping and aviation without having had to invest any new money.
Once all energy is generated renewably, everything else will fall into place with market forces, as fossil fuels will become prohibitively expensive, so people will naturally move towards electricity as their source of energy to save themselves money.
These figures are using already committed funds. So, require no new investment by governments. If we can persuade governments to invest additional real money as-well, the targets can be achieved even sooner.
There will be challenges, not least that governments selling electricity is not "business as usual", and they will likely be sued by the EU and World Trade Organisation for unfair competition. But as this is a Climate Emergency, governments can use Emergency Powers to ensure that sufficient renewable energy generation is available in time. And the Welsh Government has already indicated willingness to tackle "business as usual" by stopping the development of the Newport M4 relief road.
For the full report including references, calculations and frequently asked questions and answers, please click here.
For the full report tailored for Carmarthenshire County Council, please click here.
Alternative appraoch recommended for Carmarthenshire County Council:
The entire energy requirements of the Council, 20GWh electricity and 44GWh heating per year, could be provided renewably by investing in solar panels with battery backup installed on buildings and carparks where the energy is used, for self-consumption only, at a cost of around £41m, fully funded by interest free Government Salix loans, at no cost to Carmarthenshire’s Council Tax payers.
The Salix loans would be paid back over 8 years through energy savings. Then all energy would be free of charge to the Council, saving £4.8m / year, which could be used to provide better services to the community.
Details and calculations are available here.