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Climate and Energy

Global warming is one of the world’s most serious and complex issues today. Human-caused climate change has the potential to devastate the planet’s environment and forever change the Earth’s weather patterns and ecosystems. Although humans have caused global warming, they also have the potential to change it by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, rethinking climate and energy and using more energy efficient practices.

Energy costs and global warming both increase when energy is wasted. Using energy resources more efficiently can have a significant effect on the battle against climate change. Both small and large measures can improve energy efficiency. For instance, individuals can switch to low-energy light bulbs while countries set stricter standards for heating systems, factories, power plants and cars.

Industrial energy efficiency is improving in many countries around the world. Global investments in renewable and efficient sources of energy reached an all-time high of $100 billion in 2006. Many countries have also implemented energy efficiency policies that have both limited energy consumption and increased productivity.Germany is leading the way with its commitment to renewable energy and innovative approach to climate and energy.

By 2050, the country aims to rely solely on renewable energy sources. If it succeeds, it will become the first major industrial country in the world to completely make the switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources. The country is well on its way to reaching the groundbreaking goal; more than 15 percent of Germany’s electricity already comes from solar, wind and other renewable sources. Only the United States produces more wind power, and Germany will increase its photovoltaic capacity by 5,000 megawatts this year, bring the total to 14,000 megawatts.

Today, just under half of Germany’s greenhouse gases are emitted by energy production. If Germany continues to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, the country will easily meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by 85 percent.

Success stories like Germany can inspire change, but the marketplace for renewable energy technologies faces some problems. The two largest barriers to the growth of alternative energy and energy efficiency are lack of appropriate financial models and lack of public awareness; however, recent efforts to educate the public about global warming have been successful, and more investors are looking into renewable energy than ever before. The result of this attention will be positive climate and energy changes that can reduce global warming.