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Time to think big and turn to renewable energy

Yesterday saw the launch of the third in a series of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Here's what we know so far: we're in the era of man-made climate change. The risks are increasing and we're not doing nearly enough to manage them.

Despite the stark message, the report shows a different pathway is possible. The key is cleaning up and modernising our energy sector (the single biggest source of emissions) by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Global energy markets are still heavily tilted in favour of fossil fuels but the good news is renewables are no longer a niche market: they are becoming the new normal. Last year, they made up nearly 46% of new power installed globally.

Major investors are waking up to the risks posed by our reliance on fossil fuels and are beginning to limit their exposure to polluting and outdated energy sources.

We're witnessing a geographic shift in renewable energy investment. China is the world's biggest renewables investor, spending more in 2013 than European countries combined.

In Scotland, we've been amongst the first to recognise and respond to the challenges of climate change, with our world-leading Climate Change Act and ambitious renewables targets. We're making a real virtue of our windy weather, with renewables already meeting nearly half our electricity needs and providing over 11,000 jobs.

But the UK Committee on Climate Change has reminded us that more needs to be done in Scotland to reduce emissions.

We need to question how we can replicate the momentum we've built in the power sector so we can wean our homes, offices and cars off fossil fuels too.

Reducing our emissions won't be easy. But it is do-able. Crucially, it offers huge opportunities to modernise our energy system, reduce air pollution, have warmer homes and less fuel poverty, have healthier, more active lifestyles, create new skilled jobs and harness investment - and to enhance our energy security.

Most importantly, reducing emissions is a chance to protect the things we care about, whether it's the seasons we know and (mainly) love, the bees and butterflies in our gardens or the chance for our kids and grandkids to have the prospect of a secure green job.

Climate change is already happening but we know how to turn the ship around. The transition won't happen overnight but progress is being made, demonstrating what is possible if we think big and act boldly.

Gina Hanrahan is climate and energy policy officer for WWF Scotland

Contextual targeting label: 
Environment

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