Global Apollo programme – the 21st century equivalent of putting man on the moon

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The Global Apollo project is aiming to tackle climate change with the same vigour in which America put the man on the moon. The aim is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal by 2025.

The project is run by a group of UK scientist, economists, and businessmen including – but not limited to – Sir David King, Sir Gus O’Donnell, Lord Nicholas Stern, Lord Adair Turner and ex-BP chief Lord John Browne. They have called to invite countries to pledge 0.02% of their GDP over a ten-year period.

The programme will require £15bn a year of spending on research, development and demonstration of green energy and storage, roughly the equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

There will be a Commission consisting of one representative of each member country and, under it, a Roadmap Committee of some 20 senior technologists and businessmen who will construct and revise the roadmap year by year.

Their report opens with a quote from Thomas Edison: “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

The graph below shows what they project will happen if we don’t act now. 

Picture from the Global Apollo Programme Report

The report urges Government to agree on a Global Apollo Programme by the Paris meeting in 2015. The Programme should begin immediately after that. By harnessing the power of the sun and wind in time, we have a good chance of preserving life on earth as we know it. Unlike fossil fuel, they produce no pollution, and no miners get killed. Unlike nuclear fission, they produce no radioactive waste.

Professor Sir David King told BBC News “We have already discovered enough fossil fuels to wreck the climate many times over. There’s only one thing that’s going to stop us burning it – and that’s if renewables become cheaper than fossil fuels. Under our plan, we are aiming to make that happen globally within a decade.”

“This challenge is at least as big as the challenge of putting a man on the Moon… We believe that is an absolute minimum to crack this problem. The good news is that we are seeing this technological progress. The bad news is that it’s simply not fast enough,” LSE economics professor Lord Layard, who is a member of the Apollo group.

“Nasa showed how a stupendous goal could be achieved, amazingly fast, if the will and the resources are there,” said Professor Martin Rees, former head of the Royal Society and another member of the Apollo group.

Dr King has said that the idea was being discussed in June 2014 at G7 summit. More participating countries would’ve announced at the G20 in Turkey on the 15th-16th of November this year.


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