Solar Energy: A Sunflower Solution To Electricity Shortage

Computer giant IBM last week revealed the prototype of its advanced solar electricity generators: a 30ft-high concrete “sunflower” fitted with wafer-thin aluminium mirrors and a maze of tiny tubes for carrying coolant through the heart of each device. The machines, which will be built in conjunction with the Swiss company Airlight Energy, can convert 80% of the sun’s radiation into electricity and hot water, it is claimed, with each generating 12 kilowatts of electricity and 20kW of heat on a sunny day, enough to supply several homes.
At the device’s official unveiling in Zurich, executives for both companies said they hoped that by 2017, when their sunflower generators should be ready for the market, they could be manufactured for half to one-third of the cost of comparable solar converters today. According to IBM, the machine’s secret lies with the microscopic tubes that carry water through the cluster of photovoltaic chips at the heart of each device. This system has already been adopted by IBM to cool its high-performance supercomputers. “We were inspired by the branched blood supply of the human body,” said Bruno Michel, from the IBM Research laboratories in Zurich.
The sunflower operates by tracking the sun so that it always points in the best direction for collecting its rays; these are then focused on to a cluster of photovoltaic cells that are mounted on a raised platform. The cells convert solar radiation into electricity. However, without the microchannel cooling system, which carries distilled water through the chips, temperatures would reach more than 1,000C. With the microcooling system, which carries water to within a few millimetres of the back of each chip, temperatures are kept down to 90C – a far safer, and far more efficient, operating level. Electricity is generated while the system also produces large amounts of hot water from the cooling system. “That hot water is a game changer,” added Michel. “Electricity is obviously vitally useful but so is the heat – for we can use it for desalinating water.”
At present, about 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity. However, that figure is dwarfed by the number – 2.5 billion – who have no access to proper sanitation. And according to figures supplied by Airlight Energy, that latter number is currently increasing at a rate of 9% a year. However, the IBM-Airlight sunflower is designed to tackle both problems. The electricity will have numerous uses while the hot water can be pumped through desalinators that use porous membranes to boil salt water and distil the result into pure, drinkable water. A large installation made up of several generators could provide enough fresh water for an entire town, it was claimed at last week’s launch.
Apart from sites in Africa, the Middle East and Australia, it is hoped the sunflower system will be used for remote hospitals, hotels and holiday resorts. IBM says it will instal its first two devices for free in 2016 and has asked towns around the world to put their names forward to be the first to have a solar sunflower erected on their land.

This article is reposted from The Guardian Author credit goes to Robin McKie Images credit goes to IBM

This Lobbying Shop Is So Dirty Even Oil Companies Want Out

The mass exodus from the lobbying group ALEC (that’s short for the American Legislative Exchange Council) continues, as more companies shy away from its stance on climate change (read: total denial). Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Yahoo all cut ties with the group over the last few months, thanks to a pretty staggering track record on blocking renewable energy initiatives and other kinds of environmental legislation.
So why would Occidental Petroleum, one of the largest U.S.-based international oil companies, also leave ALEC? For its stance on climate change!
According to the National Journal, Occidential sent a letter to its investment managers declaring its intent to quit the group. An ALEC spokesperson denied the move has anything to do with the current anti-ALEC frenzy, but the letter suggests otherwise.
Occidental’s letter notes a concern that it could be “presumed to share the positions” on global warming and regulations to limit air pollution from the nation’s fleet of power plants held by organizations of which the company is a member, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry.
“We do not support all of the positions taken by organizations to which we belong,” Occidental’s associate general counsel, Linda Peterson, wrote.
Oh, the irony: A ginormous oil company doesn’t want to be associated with global warming denial or power plant pollution. Heaven forbid we’d think it doesn’t care about the climate!
But hey, if green is cool even to you, Occidental Petroleum, then by all means: Put your money where your mouth is and leave ALEC in the dust.

This article is reposted from Grist Author credit goes to Sara Bernard Images credit goes to Shutterstock

Build the Green Economy

The following article was written by Bob Pollin (founder and president of Pear Energy) for Boston Review print and online editions.
Here is the fundamental challenge we confront with climate change. As of 2010, total annual greenhouse gas emissions were at 45 billion metric tons of mostly carbon dioxide (CO2), along with smaller amounts of methane, nitrous oxide, and other gases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that to stabilize the global average temperature at its current level of around 60.3°Fahrenheit, which is 3.6° above the pre-industrial average of 56.7°, total emissions will need to fall by 40 percent by 2030, to 27 billion metric tons annually, and by 80 percent in 2050, to about 9 billion metric tons.
We are not on track to meet these goals. As long as global economic growth proceeds along roughly the trajectory it has taken over the past century, and especially the past fifty years, global emissions will not fall at all, but rather will rise over time as more and more fossil fuels—oil, coal, and natural gas—are burned to meet increasing demands for energy. The greenhouse gas emissions generated by burning fossil fuels account for nearly 80 percent of all emissions.
In 2010 the United States produced about 17 percent of global emissions, even though we represent only 4 percent of the world’s population. To make our minimally fair contribution toward reducing global emissions, we need to cut our own by at least what the IPCC recommends. Other countries—starting with China, which generates about 20 percent of worldwide emissions—will also need to make comparable cuts. Even though China’s emissions exceed those of the United States, our per-capita emissions are roughly three times higher. The United States therefore bears a special responsibility to deliver dramatic reductions.
Meeting these reduction targets will be challenging, but the goal is not out of reach. This article proposes a transformative U.S. clean energy investment program that can meet the 40 percent reduction target over the next twenty years. I have developed this program in collaboration with Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Bracken Hendricks, and with the support of the Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP will publish a book-length version of the study this fall, which includes all the analysis and calculations on which this article is based.
Our program goes well beyond what is being advanced or even contemplated by the Obama administration, though Obama’s agenda mostly pushes in the right direction. The program is also economically and politically realistic, offering a framework for action at all levels of public policy, community activism, and private business investments. Critically, this program will not require ordinary Americans to sacrifice job opportunities or overall economic well-being.
There will certainly be grounds for debating many aspects of the approach I develop here. But my overarching purpose is to demonstrate that sharp emissions reductions are feasible and that hugely painful tradeoffs are avoidable.

The 1.2 Percent Solution

The basics of the program are simple. It entails about $200 billion of public and private investments in clean energy every year for twenty years. This is a massive amount of money, but it is only about 1.2 percent of U.S. GDP. Nevertheless, it is about four times the current level of U.S. clean energy investment. The challenge of ramping up will be formidable.
Investments will need to be focused on two areas: dramatically raising energy efficiency standards in buildings, transportation systems, and industrial processes, and, equally dramatically, expanding the supply of renewable energy sources—solar, wind, geothermal, small-scale hydro, and clean bioenergy.
Some analysts consider “clean energy” to include nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. I do not. Nuclear power does generate electricity without producing CO2 emissions, but it also creates major environmental and public safety concerns, which have only intensified since the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Similarly CCS presents hazards. These technologies aim to capture emitted carbon and transport it, usually through pipelines, to subsurface geological formations, where it would be stored permanently. But such technologies have not been proven at a commercial scale. The dangers of carbon leakages from flawed transportation and storage systems will, in any case, only increase to the extent that CCS technologies are commercialized. As such, the most cautious program for clean energy demands investments in technologies that are well studied, already improving rapidly, and will not pose significant public safety and environmental problems. This means directing the yearly $200 billion to energy efficiency and renewables.
Such an investment will create roughly 2.7 million more jobs per year than will spending the same amount of money on our existing fossil fuel–based energy system. There are two main reasons for this disparity. First, clean energy investments require spending more on employing people than on buying land, buying buildings, and operating machines. Second, clean energy investments rely more on domestic resources than on imports, foreign oil in particular.
This 2.7 million net increase in jobs would come after we account for declines in U.S. fossil fuel production and consumption. In order to meet emissions reduction targets over the next twenty years, coal consumption will need to fall by about 60 percent, oil consumption by 40 percent, and natural gas consumption by 30 percent. Fossil fuel companies will not accept these cuts without a fight, of course. Their assets still in the ground will lose about $3 trillion in value, according to a recent study by Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics. But there is no alternative if we are going to make a serious commitment to controlling climate change.

Why This Approach Over Others?

The Obama administration has consistently voiced its commitment to meeting the 2030 IPCC target. It has also advanced several ambitious policy initiatives: a $90 billion clean energy spending program within the overall $800 billion economic stimulus package of 2009, strict new auto fuel efficiency standards requiring most cars to operate at Toyota Prius efficiency levels by about 2030, a procurement policy requiring the U.S. military to purchase 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, and tight enforcement of “carbon pollution” standards for electricity-generating power plants. Yet even if the Obama administration successfully implements these initiatives, emission levels in twenty years will still be about 40 percent higher than the IPCC target. U.S. climate policies need to embrace the Obama initiatives but also move decisively beyond them.
As a first step, many serious analysts and activists argue that the U.S. economy needs to stop growing, or even contract. A significantly smaller economy—with people living and working in more modest spaces, commuting and traveling less, and producing fewer goods and services—would reduce energy consumption. But it would also almost certainly entail diminishing opportunities for good jobs and broadly shared economic gains. Such hits to decent job prospects and overall well-being would come on top of the losses working people have already faced as a result of the Great Recession, along with forty years of wage stagnation and rising inequality. Even though the gains from U.S. economic growth have persistently favored the rich for forty years, the prospects for reversing rising inequality will be far greater when the overall economy is growing than when the rich are fighting everyone else for shares of a shrinking pie.
The program I describe would instead create job opportunities across the U.S. economy, at all levels of the labor market. There would be more jobs for electricians, roofers, steel workers, machinists, engineers, truck drivers, research scientists, lawyers, accountants, and administrative assistants. Of course, as the fossil fuel industries contract, there will be job losses for coal miners, petroleum engineers, and construction workers building oil and gas pipelines. So a successful clean energy agenda must include assistance and transitional programs for workers, families, and communities tied to the fossil fuel sectors.
Besides creating jobs, the investment program I propose would most likely promote overall GDP growth and certainly will not impede growth. The economy’s overall growth trajectory will be stimulated by investments in new clean energy products and by myriad technical innovations. In short, the necessary contraction of the American oil, coal, and natural gas industries will be more than compensated by the flourishing of the clean energy economy.

Prospects for Energy Efficiency

As a first order of business, the United States will need to implement major improvements in energy efficiency in all three major areas of energy consumption: buildings, industry, and transportation.
Investments in buildings should focus on improving their thermal shells and raising the functioning of heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting systems. Investments in industry should focus on combined heat-and-power systems, which transform a fuel into electricity, capture the hot waste gas generated as a byproduct, and use that gas to heat space and water. Investments in transportation should focus on raising the fuel efficiency standard for automobiles. This can be achieved through implementing the agreement reached in 2011 between the U.S. auto industry and the Obama administration, which would see the average fuel efficiency standard for new cars raised to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Expanding public transportation systems will also be beneficial, but we cannot depend on it to reduce emissions. Public transportation usage is so low throughout most of the country that even if we were to double usage over the next two decades, the impact on emissions reduction would be tiny compared to reductions we would achieve if everyone drove cars that operate at a Prius level of fuel efficiency.
How much would these investments cost? Working from research reported by the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy, my collaborators and I have estimated the total money needed to reduce U.S. energy consumption from its current level of about 98 quadrillion BTUs (Q-BTUs) to about 70 Q-BTUs. The figure we got is on the order of $1.8 trillion, or $90 billion a year over twenty years. Our estimate is about 30 percent higher than that produced by the leading business consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Importantly, our estimate assumes that the economy will not experience any slowdown in economic growth.
These efficiency investments won’t just help us to reduce emissions. They will also save consumers significant amounts of money. Efficiency investments are, in that sense, self-financing. In a typical case, a building retrofit for efficiency should pay for itself three to five years. As such, the main requirement for mobilizing energy efficiency projects will not be subsidizing them, but rather organizing effective financing systems, with a range of options available for both consumers and investors. Below, I discuss one important example of how this can work.
Finally we need to consider the prospect that large-scale efficiency investments may not have their intended effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The problem is termed the “rebound effect”: better energy efficiency could encourage consumers to expand their energy-using activities. The economist William Stanley Jevons first described this phenomenon in 1865, when he observed that the invention of more efficient steam engines led to more, not less, coal consumption in nineteenth-century Britain. However, unlike British coal users in Jevons’s time, most U.S. energy consumers today will not want to heat, cool, and light buildings, drive long distances, or operate appliances much more than they already do. Any rebound effect that may emerge as a byproduct of an economy-wide energy efficiency investment will not be large enough to counteract the significant environmental benefits.
Nevertheless, the most effective way to limit rebound effects is to combine efficiency investments with complementary measures to change the economy’s overall energy mix. It is crucial that we expand the supply of clean renewable energy and raise the prices of oil, coal, and natural gas relative to renewables in order to discourage consumers from relying on fossil fuels. I consider these policies below.

Prospects for CLEAN Renewable Energy

In 2010 all renewable energy sources combined contributed about 8 Q-BTUs of energy to the U.S. economy, roughly 8 percent of total supply. Most renewable energy sources are emissions-free, so expanding their use will be critical to reaching the IPCC’s emissions reduction target. My collaborators and I estimate that overall renewable supply will need to double by 2030–35 if we are going to have a chance of achieving the target.
However, the challenge is substantially greater than it appears, since nearly 90 percent of all renewable energy produced and consumed in the United States now comes from either bioenergy or hydro power. Significant problems exist with both of these sources. The most important problems result from the production of corn ethanol, which is the most heavily utilized source of bioenergy. Total emissions from consuming corn ethanol are no less than those from burning oil. Moreover, relying on corn and other food products as the raw material for producing biofuels can create a major strain on global food supplies.
Hydro power produces energy without generating CO2 emissions, but the best sites in the United States for building large-scale dams have long since been developed. There would also be negative environmental impacts resulting from constructing additional large-scale dams. There is some promise for hydro, though: there are roughly 5,000 rivers and streams where small-scale hydro projects could be developed at low cost without dams and the attending environmental consequences.
Still, the long-term future of renewable energy will depend on solar, wind, and, to a lesser extent, geothermal power. They are the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy sources, but they will need help developing. Collectively, these three sources account for just slightly more than 1 percent of the U.S. energy supply. The contribution of solar is a puny one tenth of one percent.
The biggest barrier to expansion of these renewables has been their high cost relative to fossil fuels or nuclear power. However, even the Department of Energy’s conservative cost projections find that, by 2017, wind and geothermal energy, along with hydro and clean bioenergy, will be at cost parity with coal and nuclear power under average conditions. The Department of Energy does project a significantly greater range of costs for renewables throughout the country, given different endowments of, among other things, sunshine, wind, and fast-flowing rivers at assorted regions and specific locations. But this wider range of costs can be controlled through policies that utilize the most cost-effective combination of renewable sources within any given setting.
The DOE also projects that natural gas could be supplied more cheaply than renewables, coal, and nuclear power. But producing cheap natural gas depends on the expanding use of hydraulic fracturing technology, or “fracking,” for extracting gas from shale rock formations. As has been widely publicized, fracking imposes severe environmental and public safety problems, including groundwater contamination, release of toxic methane gases into the atmosphere, and rising susceptibility to earthquakes. Most importantly, we will never achieve our emissions reduction target if we increase consumption of natural gas, no matter how that gas is obtained.
Unlike other renewables, solar is not likely to be at cost parity with coal and nuclear power by 2017, according to the DOE’s estimates. But solar costs are diminishing rapidly. Through technical innovations and expanded market opportunities over the next two decades, solar promises to become the cleanest, safest, and most abundant renewable energy source. This longer-term prospect is what prompted former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Jon Wellinghoff’s recent observation that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything . . . . It is going to be the dominant player. Everybody’s roof is out there.”
Based on DOE figures, my collaborators and I estimate that the country will need around $2.1 trillion in new investments in order to expand the clean renewable energy supply—that is, exclusive of corn ethanol and large-scale hydro plants—from around 3.5 to 15 Q-BTUs over the next twenty years. This amounts to about $107 billion per year. Tack on the $90 billion in energy efficiency investments described above, and you get a grand total of about $200 billion per year, or 1.2 percent of GDP.

Getting from Here to There

At every level of government, there are already in place policies aimed at promoting clean energy investments and reducing CO2 emissions. The task is not so much to design new measures as to strengthen the policy framework that already exists. We can obtain a good sense of the challenges ahead by considering three major policy initiatives: the federal government’s building retrofit program, federal and state-level carbon caps, and existing worker adjustment assistance programs.
Federal building efficiency program. In 2007 Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which mandates that 75 percent of the more than 300,000 buildings owned by the federal government undergo efficiency retrofits. The goal is to reduce energy usage by 30 percent by 2015, relative to 2003 levels. But even though the bill passed with bipartisan support, there has been little progress in bringing the project to scale. By May of this year, only 1,702 buildings had been retrofitted, about 0.3 percent of the number targeted. Yet the government reports that even this modest level of implementation produced $840 million in annual energy savings for taxpayers. Advancing the project would easily save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars per year. It would also demonstrate to private building owners how much they can save through retrofitting.
Pricing carbon emissions. Pricing carbon emissions can be accomplished either through a carbon cap or carbon tax. A carbon cap establishes a firm limit on the allowable level of emissions for major polluting entities, such as utilities. The first major cap program in the United States began operating in California last year; it requires utilities and other large-scale polluters to reduce emissions by 3 percent per year. Such measures will also raise the prices of oil, coal, and natural gas by limiting their supply. A carbon tax, on the other hand, would raise fossil fuel prices directly. Either approach can be effective as long as the cap is strict enough, or tax rate high enough, to significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption and as long as there are few exemptions to the law.
As we design a carbon cap or tax, we must be mindful of its distributional impact. All else equal, increasing the price of fossil fuels would affect lower-income households more than affluent households, since gasoline, home-heating fuels, and electricity absorb a higher share of lower-income households’ consumption. An effective solution to this problem is a so-called cap-and-dividend policy, such as the one proposed in 2009 by Senators Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins. This approach would limit emissions by requiring large fossil fuel consumers to purchase emission permits. Auctioning the permits would drive dividends back into households, offsetting the higher cost of energy.
A transitional “superfund” for workers. It is critical to establish a generous adjustment assistance program to compensate fossil fuel industry workers who lose their jobs. How expensive would such an assistance program have to be? One reference point is the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program, designed to help workers displaced by shifts in U.S. global trade policies. The program supports wage subsidies, health insurance, counseling, retraining, relocation, and job search. The overall cost is about $10,000 per worker per year, and workers, on average, benefit for about two years. However, the labor movement has long derided this level of funding as paltry, the equivalent of burial insurance. More adequate support would be in the range of $40–$50,000 per year for each displaced worker. Funding at this level would come close to approximating labor leader Tony Mazzocchi’s idea of a “superfund” to support workers displaced by necessary environmental transitions. As Mazzocchi said, “There is a superfund for dirt. There ought to be one for workers.”
Assuming about 100,000 jobs will be lost, the average annual cost of a clean energy “superfund” would be about $800 million, or about 0.02 percent of the current federal budget. This amount could be recouped many times over through the savings from the full-scale federal building retrofit program.

The Plan Can Work, but Will It?

Dramatic emissions reductions are within reach. We can advance a viable agenda for a clean energy economy while addressing the legitimate concerns of workers and communities that will find themselves hurt by this agenda. In the fight to control climate change, we should not be distracted by the false tradeoff between jobs, economic growth, and an adequate energy supply on the one hand and the environment, a stable climate, and public safety on the other.
At the same time, there is no guarantee that this 1.2 percent solution will succeed. One major obstacle is institutional inertia. We see this vividly with the federal building retrofit program. It is already saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars every year, so why haven’t Congress and the Obama administration brought it to full scale? The only explanation is that doing so entails a sense of purpose that does not presently exist in Washington. Similarly, within the private sector, obtaining affordable financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects is challenging because they are still largely unfamiliar to investors and banks. Such investments appear riskier than investments in oil pipelines or fracking.
There is, still, one critical tradeoff that cannot be avoided: the fossil fuel industry will inevitably have to experience major cutbacks and, over the longer term, near-total demise. There is simply no choice in the matter if we believe the research produced by climate scientists. The profits of oil, coal, and natural gas companies will have to yield to the imperative of sustaining life on earth.

Stealth Wind Turbines For 96 MW French Wind Farm


If you know what makes a stealth bomber stealthy, you might already have an understanding of a what a stealth wind turbine is just from reading the article title. Similar to the very low radar profile of a stealth bomber, stealth wind turbines don’t reflect radar signals as much as the typical kind do. Some wind farms have been rejected for development because of their impact on aviation radar systems.
Many proposed wind turbine locations have been blocked by the French military over radar concerns. However, the military also developed a way to treat wind turbine surfaces so that they don’t interfere as much with radar systems. Vestas is manufacturing the stealth wind turbines for a 96 MW wind farm in France, which will be the largest in the country. All wind turbines located there will be stealthy.
Stealth wind turbines are not entirely new. Vestas made an announcement in 2011 about their work in this area, after completing a successful test of a new wind turbine with less radar reflectivity.
Although the development of stealth wind turbines might seem somewhat of a tangent to the wind power industry, it should be noted that an estimated 20 GW of potential wind power has been shelved due to radar interference concerns.
In developed countries with limited space for very large wind farms, there is a real concern for the disruption of air traffic control systems. Military and civilian radar systems might also be compromised by placing wind farms with conventional turbines too close. Wind farms are composed of wind turbines that turn in wind, and that are reflective. On radar screens they show up as confusing images that can cause human viewers to lose track of planes as they are flying.
Onboard navigational systems for airplanes and even marine vessels can also be confused by the presence of large wind farms. For these reasons, it makes very good sense that Vestas undertook the project to reduce the reflectivity of wind turbine blades, nacelles, and towers.
Applying the reducing materials used on stealth airplanes to entire turbine blades did not work because it reduced wind turbine performance too much. Adding the materials to the leading and trailing edges of the blades was a better solution. Replacing glass composites with radar-absorbent materials also helped. However, covering the nacelle and tower with these same materials was a good idea because this approach did not reduce wind turbine performance.
Ferrite paints and crystalline graphite are two of the radar absorbing materials that were used to make a conventional wind turbine stealthy.

This article is reposted from Clean Technica Author credit goes to Jake Richardson Images credit goes to Vestas

Climate Change Report: Prevent Damage By Overhauling Global Economy

The world can still act in time to stave off the worst effects of climate change, and enjoy the fruits of continued economic growth as long as the global economy can be transformed within the next 15 years, a group of the world's leading economists and political leaders will argue on Tuesday.
Tackling climate change can be a boon to prosperity, rather than a brake, according to the study involving a roll-call of the globe's biggest institutions, including the UN, the OECD group of rich countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and co-authored by Lord Stern, one of the world's most influential voices on climate economics.
The report comes ahead of a UN-convened summit of world leaders on global warming next week at which David Cameron has pledged to lead calls for strong action.
"Reducing emissions is not only compatible with economic growth and development – if done well it can actually generate better growth than the old high-carbon model," said Stern.
It is his most significant intervention in climate politics since the landmark2006 Stern review of the economics of climate change, which made the case that tackling climate change as a matter of urgency will be cheaper than attempting to deal with the effects of the problem decades in the future. That report marked a revolution in thinking on global warming, and was a major factor in the agreements forged in Copenhagen in 2009 by which developed and major developing countries for the first time set out joint measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The economic transformation proposed in the new report will improve the lives of billions, the authors argue, from people suffering from air pollution in crowded cities to farmers struggling with poor soils in developing countries, the authors found. But achieving this change will require strong political action to set limits on carbon dioxide emissions, while promoting alternatives such as renewable energy, sustainable cities, teaching modern farming techniques and better-designed transport.
The world is expected to add billions of people to the global population in the next two decades, and trillions of dollars in economic growth – but if the massive expected growth of developing world cities is poorly managed, and global investment is poured into existing high-carbon infrastructure, then a unique opportunity to change the pattern of prosperity will have been lost, and billions of people will be left the poorer as a result, the report warns.
Stern gave the example of cities, which if designed on public transport can have more efficient economies – because people aren't spending hours commuting and polluting, with its attendant effects on health – as well as better quality of life and lower carbon emissions.
The energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, told the Guardian that the UK has already seen benefits from focusing on clean development, and was committed to helping developing countries do the same. He said: "It has required UK business and international investors to recognise the costs of failure and the benefits of change and it has been sustained by a strong, vocal and committed network of NGOs, pressure groups and activists who have been instrumental in sustaining political will and public acceptance."
Cutting Co2 pollution : solar panel on the rooftop of a house in India

At next week's climate summit, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, will convene heads of state and government from around the world to discuss climate change for the first time since the 2009 Copenhagen conference, which produced the first commitments from major developing countries such as China and India to curb emissions, and marked the first time the US agreed to binding emissions targets, but was widely derided for the scenes of chaos that accompanied it.
Convening world leaders again is a risky strategy, but is seen by the UN as essential to lay the ground for a crunch meeting in Paris next year, at which world governments will attempt to forge a new agreement that will cut global greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, when current pledges run out. The EU has vowed to cut emissions by 40% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, but is the only major developed country bloc to have laid out clear plans.
Today's report, the New Climate Economy, from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, says that although technological "fixes" to climate change – such as renewable energy, low-carbon fuels, better urban design and better use of agricultural land – are growing fast, they are currently nowhere near enough to produce the transformation needed. As new power stations, cities and transport networks are built today, they are still being engineered on a high-carbon basis – coal-fired power plants, roads rather than public transport, slums without facilities rather than planned developments – and once these are built they lock in high carbon emissions for decades to come. Breaking that cycle requires a coordinated effort, from rich and poor countries, that prioritises sustainability and penalises high-carbon growth, for instance through a price on carbon.
Such efforts will come at a price, but this is far outweighed by the benefits in economic growth and improvements in health, the report suggests. For instance, reducing the world's dependence on coal and other dirty fuels will cut air pollution and remove a key source of strain on healthcare systems.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, launched a year ago by the UK along with six other countries, has involved the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the International Energy Agency and the UN, as well as several research institutes, and former world premiers. It has been chaired by the Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, and advised by leading economists including Lord Stern and Nobel prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Michael Spence.
Ottmar Edenhofer, chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and an adviser to the report, said: "Economic growth and emissions reductions can be achieved together, the report clearly confirms … Pricing CO2 is key. The heaven above us today is a waste dump for gases that harm our climate system. Wealthy states are disposing of them, free of charge, at the expense of all of us. If emitting CO2 came at a reasonable price, this would stabilise investors' expectations so they can push forward the innovation of climate friendly technologies."

This article is reposted from TheGuardian Author credit goes to Fiona Harvey Images credit goes to Peter Andrews / Rafiq Maqbool