Renewables: the Smart Way Out of Crisis in Southern Europe

Human Wrongs Watch

By Tina Peternel*

10 November 2015 – Even though autumn is in full, colorful swing and we’re slowly getting ready for winter in Europe, Greenpeace is turning up the heat and not letting go of summer just yet.

Sand Sculpture for Solar Paradise Project in Gran Canaria. 25 Jul, 2015 © Sergio Bolaños / Greenpeace

Credit: Sergio Bolanos/Greenpeace

I still have a picture in my mind of hundreds of volunteers, tourists and local residents heading to the most popular beaches of Croatia, Greece, Italy and Spain, demanding that their governments protect their beloved holiday destinations from dirty energy and make use of what these countries are never lacking: sun and wind.

One would think that in Southern Europe, where sun and wind are so abundant, clean energy sources would be the obvious choice for energy solutions.

However, the reality is quite the opposite, and most Southern European governments are responding to economic struggles with plans for new coal power plants and offshore oil-drilling. All this in spite of irrefutable scientific proof that we need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

The transition to clean energy is not only possible, but it is the best way to go. It’s a way out of the economic crisis and towards a fresh clean future where renewable energy ensures new jobs, enhances a new sustainable economy, protects ecosystems and mitigates climate change.

To show that this transition is possible, we commissioned expert studies in Spain, Greece, Italy and Croatia to prove the potential and economic added-value of renewable energy and energy savings projects in those countries.Untapped and Bountiful in Southern Europe Inforgraphic [click to enlarge]

So what did the numbers show?

  • In Croatia, we proved the multiple positive effects of adopting clean energy solutions at hotels, camps, schools and farms on the Croatian coast, islands and mainland.The transition towards 100% renewable energy would create several thousands of new jobs and help the country save € 4 to € 5 billion annually by ending expensive energy imports.
  • In Greece, despite the tough economic situation and strict austerity regime, our experts are showing that it is still possible to cut electricity costs, reduce energy poverty and provide clean energy.Following the energy efficiency and solarization plan that Greenpeace is suggesting, the Greeks would save billions of Euros and create thousands of new jobs every year!
  • Similarly, in Italy, on 20 small islands that are not connected to the grid, electricity is produced through dirty and expensive diesel systems.And since many islands around the world are facing similar conditions, the Italian study could be seen  as a model that can be used in other islands to calculate their own pathway to 100% renewable energy.
  • ​​In Spain, we focused on a possible renewable energy transition in the Canary Islands, which are far from mainland Spain.The entire archipelago is currently powered by expensive, dirty diesel generators. With our Energy [R]evolution scenario for the Canaries we proved that a switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050 is possible.

    We showed that up to € 42 billion could be saved by investing € 20 billion in renewable energy.

The sun is not good only for our summer holidays. It creates opportunities to revive economies and it’s a resource that can be locally produced and owned. It can also create thousands of jobs.

It is time the Mediterranean countries show the rest of Europe the true power of energy from the Sun.

Join the climate movement

With only a few weeks left before the international climate conference in Paris we want to say loud and clear that fossil fuels must stay in the ground and be replaced by renewable energy.

Join the movement for a just energy transition and demand our political and business leaders make the big switch from dirty energy such as oil, coal and nuclear to 100% renewables.

We can power our lives with energy models that protect the environment, are in harmony with our health as well as environment and are socially just and economically viable.

Nothing stops climate change faster than our actions.

*Tina Peternel is the Coordinator of the Solutions for Mediterranean Project with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe.

Her report was published in Greenpeace. Go to Original.

2015 Human Wrongs Watch

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