Stanford Scientists: Switch to Renewables Would Save 7 Million Lives Per Year, Create 24 Million Jobs
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Californian scientists said a fossil fuel phase-out is achievable that would contain climate change, deliver energy entirely from wind, water and sunlight to 139 nations, and save up to 7 million lives each year. They said it would also create a net gain of 24 million long-term jobs, all by 2050, and at the same time limit global warming to 1.5°C or less.
The roadmap is entirely theoretical, and depends entirely on the political determination within each country to make the switch work. But, the researchers argued, they have provided a guide towards an economic and social shift that could save economies each year around $20 trillion in health and climate costs.
“Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” said Mark Jacobson of Stanford University’s atmosphere and energy program.
“There are other scenarios. We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction.” Jacobson and 26 colleagues reported in the journal Joule that their roadmaps to a new energy world free of fossil fuels and of nuclear energy can be achieved without the mining, transporting or processing of fuels.
According to their roadmaps, 139 nations could be 80 percent complete by 2030 and entirely committed to renewable sources by 2050. Jobs lost in the coal and petroleum industries would be more than compensated for by growth in the renewable sectors, and in the end, there would be more than 24 million new jobs worldwide.
Energy prices would become stable, because fuel would arrive for free: there would be less risk of disruption to energy supplies because sources would be decentralized. And energy efficiency savings that go with electrification overall could reduce “business-as-usual” demand by an estimated 42.5 percent.
“Aside from eliminating emissions and avoiding 1.5°C degrees global warming and beginning the process of letting carbon dioxide drain from the earth’s atmosphere, transitioning eliminates four to seven million air pollution deaths each year and creates over 24 million long-term full-time jobs by these plans,” professor Jacobson said.
“What is different between this study and other studies that have proposed solutions is that we are trying to examine not only the climate benefits of reducing carbon but also the air pollution benefits, job benefits and cost benefits.”