By Joshua S Hill Clean Technica, Hydropower “Not Necessary” To Meet Global Climate & Energy Goals, Says WWF & Nature Conservancy, May 23rd, 2019
A report published by WWF and The Nature Conservancy earlier this month claims that hydropower is unnecessary for meeting global climate change and clean energy goals thanks to the dramatic cost decreases seen in the solar, wind, and storage sectors.
Launched on the eve of the World Hydropower Congress held in Paris earlier this month, the new report, Connected and Flowing: A renewable future for rivers, climate and people, is based on contributions from multiple academics and finds that the accelerating development of wind and solar generation could feasibly prevent nearly 165,000 kilometers of river channels from being fragmented for damming and hydropower use.
The key point from the report, then, is that, as a planet, we can still limit global temperatures to an increase below 1.5⁰ C, as agreed in the Paris Climate Accord, without the use of hydropower. “For the first time, there are viable renewable alternatives to the high-impact hydropower dams that are currently proposed on many of the world’s free-flowing rivers, explain the authors of the report, “a development path that could trigger a range of negative impacts, including displacement of communities, the loss of productive freshwater fisheries, and much of the sediment needed to keep economically crucial deltas above the rising seas.”
Constructing and operating hydropower has a significant impact on rivers, fragmenting channels and redirecting the river’s natural route which, in turn, can destroy habitats, block fish migration routes, and threaten already vulnerable species. With thousands of hydropower dams still projected to be built across Europe, WWF and The Nature Conservancy are calling on the European Union and surrounding countries to abandon their plans. Particularly, it is hoped that plans for future dams will be cancelled in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, home to some of the continent’s most pristine and few remaining free flowing rivers.
In the end, the report outlines ways in which the planet can move towards electricity systems which are not only low-carbon and low-cost, but are also low-impact.
“Clean energy does not equal green energy,” said Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF’s European Policy Office. “In Europe we have at least 25,000 hydropower plants in operation, and it is the rivers, wildlife, and communities living alongside them who are paying the ultimate price. It is time that EU governments recognised that dams have had their day in Europe. They must now wholeheartedly commit to their obligations under the EU Water Framework Directive, take dam removal seriously, and say no to any damaging projects in the pipeline.”
“Renewable energy is the future,” added Alex Mason, Senior Energy Policy Officer at WWF’s European Policy Office. “But we need to choose renewables which are good for the climate and which can be built without damaging nature – for example solar and wind. Cost-competitive with fossil fuels and way cheaper than nuclear, there is simply no reason not to ramp up wind and solar provided they are properly planned, while investing in smart grids and storage. EU Member States must put their money on the right renewable energy horse when they finalise their climate plans this year.”
Foundation For Climate Restoration Partners With Earth Day Network, May 22nd, 2019 by Steve Hanley, Clean Technica
The Foundation For Climate Restoration works to “restore a safe & healthy climate like we had 100 years ago. Our mission is to catalyze action to build full capacity by 2030 to restore the climate by 2050.” Ambitious? You betcha. Necessary? Absolutely.
The F4CR focused on realistic programs that are economically viable. In partnership with local governments, NGOs, and communities around the world, it is launching ecosystem restoration projects to revive ocean dead zones, grow forests of seaweed, and bring back fisheries. If you aren’t aware of the vital importance of seaweed, please watch Our Planet narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Those annoying ocean weeds can sequester up to 30 times more carbon dioxide than a terrestrial rain forest. Here’s more from F4CR’s website:
“At scale, fishery and marine ecosystem restoration projects can sequester up to 50 billion tons of atmospheric CO2 on the ocean floor every year, at the same time providing food security, tens of thousands of jobs, and a reasonable ROI for investors. Reforestation and regenerative agriculture practices can restore healthy soils and sequester atmospheric CO2 as well.
“We are also working on a plan to scale up the production of synthetic limestone from CO2 captured from the air. This limestone can then be sold as low-cost aggregate and sand for local consumption while providing tens of thousands of jobs, environmental benefits and a reasonable ROI for investors. At scale, this program can also sequester up to 50 billion tons of atmospheric CO2 into our built environment every year.”
F4CR CEO Rick Parnell says in a press release, “Transformational climate action at the scale the world requires to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change will require three things – mitigation, adaptation, and restoration. We cannot keep procrastinating. It’s time for ambitious, creative, and innovative solutions that seize the opportunity of climate action to deliver enormous opportunities for our shared future.”
On May 14, F4CR announced a new partnership with the Earth Day Network. More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic engagement in the world. In addition to its global efforts to fight climate change, Earth Day Network also works to plant trees, end plastic pollution, save species, green schools and communities, and mobilize people, communities, businesses, and elected leaders to create a more sustainable future.
EDN President Kathleen Rogers says, “Growing out of the first Earth Day nearly 50 years ago, Earth Day Network has worked tirelessly to galvanize a worldwide environmental movement. Today, Earth Day Network works in more than 190 countries to raise awareness of environmental issues and mobilize action. We believe that, together, our two organizations will be able to work together to foster creative and innovative solutions that take climate action to the next level.”
F4CR Founder and Chairman Peter Fiekowsky adds, “Our two visions fit together well. We both see the value in moving beyond talk and into specific action. For too long, people believed the problem was too big and there was nothing we could do. But we can do things to restore our climate. We can support projects that bolster our economies and create good jobs while restoring our climate to pre-industrial levels. Partnering with Earth Day Network will exponentially expand the climate restoration movement.”
Wondering what you personally can do in the struggle to rein in runaway carbon emissions? If nothing else, a donation to F4CR or EDN [or both!] would help them carry on the important work they do.