There are countries whose existing industry interests create problems for adoption of renewable energy. Australia and Canada have very large investments in fossil fuels. Australia has enormous coal reserves, and Canada has its tar sands. The US has large investments in coal, gas and oil.
The US also has perhaps the world’s largest investment in new technology. Technology heavyweights such as Apple and Google have committed to expand use of renewable energy. So the current political struggle pits the fossil fuel industry (coal mining states) against the technology sector (California, New England states).
Many countries leading the transition to renewable energy do not have to overcome opposition from local fossil fuel interests. Germany, a manufacturing powerhouse, is shutting down its remaining coal mines by 2018. So . . . without a large fossil fuel industry, Germany has had an easier task in developing both the infrastructure for renewable energy and investment in renewable installations.
The United Kingdom is close behind. A recent UK Government Report, Securing Our Prosperity through a Global Cliamte Change Agreement, presents the shift away from fossil fuels as an economic opportunity that will result from “a deal” at the next UNFCCC meeting (Paris 2015). To quote the Report:
“That is why the UK business community is so overwhelmingly in favour of a deal. They want the certainty, clarity and confidence it would bring so that they can get on with making the low-carbon transition a reality. UK businesses are already at the forefront of the green economy revolution. A deal would lead to further investment opportunities at home and abroad, and increase the size of the low-carbon goods and services sector worldwide.”
The Report comments on the performance by other countries, and encourages more action:
“. . . Canada and Australia should take on the most ambitious commitments and we are pressing them to do so in our bilateral contacts. We want to see them commit to ambitious targets to reduce their absolute emissions across their whole economy, to reflect their high level of past emissions, their likely future contribution to climate change, and their capability to deliver such cuts. We would not expect any country with an economy wide cap to step back from that, or to put forward lower levels of ambition than in previous commitments.”
Despite these tough comments, the UK and other similarly minded countries at the Paris meeting should recognize the challenge that any Canadian Government will face. If between now and October 2015 there are positive steps to reducing emissions, the rest of the Kyoto parties would be more likely to accommodate Canada’s situation.
Another reason why the Conservative Government in Ottawa should adopt Green policies on Climate Change: to help the economy .