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The Renewable Future

The new report by the UN climate-change panel takes a clear stand in favor of sparking a global renewable-energy revolution. The opportunities – containing the global temperature rise this century while generating decent employment in clean-tech industries for millions of people – far outweigh the challenges.

NAIROBI – Renewable energy triggers sharply polarized views. For some, it is a costly white elephant; for others, it is humanity’s savior, promising to emancipate us (and our environment) from the “folly” of fossil fuels. So a hardheaded, credible, and, above all, impartial analysis, which would provide a much-needed dose of pragmatism and realism to the debate, is long overdue.

The new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), involving more than 120 scientists, economists, and technology specialists, provides that long-overdue assessment. It adopts a global perspective and reconciles developed and developing countries’ interests, while weighing the broader economic, environmental, and social issues at stake.

The summary, signed by representatives of the more than 190 countries meeting this week in the United Arab Emirates, concludes that renewable energy is an increasingly practical and highly promising option. Costs are falling – and are likely to fall even further as innovation accelerates and global energy demand continues to rise.

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    A Global Economy Without a Cushion

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    From 1990 to 2008, annual growth in world trade was fully 82% faster than world GDP growth. Now, however, reflecting the unusually sharp post-crisis slowdown in global trade growth, this cushion has shrunk dramatically, to just 13% over the 2010-19 period, leaving the world economy more vulnerable to all-too-frequent shocks.

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