IRENA: Doubling Today's Share of Renewables Would Boost Global GDP by $1.3 Trillion
While investors and global leaders crunch numbers this week to stabilize the global economy, experts are offering hard-hitting numbers linking renewables to a prosperous future.
Just a few days ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the International Renewable Energy Agency revealed that if the world doubled its current market share of renewable energy to 36 percent by 2030, global GDP could experience a boost of up to 1.1 percent.
This figure would represent the equivalent of $1.3 trillion in growth—more than the combined economies of Chile, South Africa and Switzerland—and would put the “Paris climate goals within reach."
The findings come as new figures show renewables investments hit a new high last year with China and the U.S. topping the table.
Yet other regions are falling behind and could risk missing out: former clean energy leader Europe saw renewable investment fall to an eight-year low; and Australia is still turning a blind eye to the millions of potential jobs created and hundreds of billions of fossil fuel import dollars saved through renewables.
Despite efforts to stagnate the ongoing transition towards a renewables-only future, upcoming Davos meetings could act as a turning point for world leaders, setting apart those who are ahead of the curve and those who aren't.
- Climate is at the top of the global agenda and is there to stay. Up until last year, climate change had been noticeably absent from the Davos agenda. Since then, a considerable number of sessions made climate change the focal point of their presentations in 2015 and during 2016 meetings—just one month after delivering the Paris Agreement—climate will once again be a topline issue for world leaders.
- Fossils are falling, but not fast enough. During last month's Paris climate meetings, world leaders agreed to widen the way for a clean, safe future. While the momentum encapsulated in the Paris Agreement is in the process of “implementation and action," replacing fossil fuels with renewables swiftly will allow the world to benefit from an energy transformation that protects millions of lives, creates new jobs, saves billions of dollars and tackles energy poverty.
- Forward-looking economies around the world are growing and going green. 2015 saw renewable energy reach a record $329.3 billion in investment worldwide. Countries from China to Chile, South Africa to Brazil are reaping the benefits of clean energy, but former leader Europe's often uncertain or changing national policies are a shot in the foot for jobs and growth. As leaders meet in Switzerland, those with real renewables ambition translated into strong energy policy will gain the most for their country's citizens and its economy.
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When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
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(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
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