Al Gore’s speech yesterday was noteworthy. America, he said, faces three big problems – the economy, national security and climate change – all three of them have the same solution – replace fossil fuels. He said that the US must set a 10 year target of producing 100% of its electricity requirements from renewable and carbon-free sources.
What a refreshing change from the G8 summit where world leaders bickered about a goal of a 50% reduction in green house gases by 2050. Even for this modest (and I would say meaningless) goal they couldn’t agree on the benchmark year.
The problems I have with the G8 goal, if you can call it that are as follows:
50% is too modest. The goals aren’t fair – they don’t share the pain fairly. The goals aren’t clear – 50% of what? Can you even reliably measure CO2 emissions of a country? But most of all 2050 is just too far off. All the politicians who are bickering about the goals will be dead by then.
Al Gore’s challenge takes away all these problems. It creates a sense of urgency and a mission. And the man in the street can understand it. The message is clear – replace the use of oil/gas/coal in producing electricity with solar/wind/nuclear/… within 10 years.
It’s just like another goal, clearly stated and clearly understood, that galvanized this nation in the past – putting a man on the moon.