Pew: $546 billion in renewable energy investments at risk

Pew Charitable Trust has found that G-20 governments can attract up to $2.3 trillion in private investment for clean energy project if they implement more aggressive climate change policies.
Written by David Worthington, Contributor

A new report by non-profit think tank Pew Charitable Trust projects that $546 billion in clean energy investments may never materialize if G-20 governments do not adopt more aggressive policies toward climate change.

The report, which is entitled, "Global Clean Power: A $2.3 Trillion Opportunity," models three scenarios over the span of the next decade: a continuation of the status quo, the adoption of Copenhagen policies, and more enhanced clean energy policies. Bloomberg New Energy Finance collaborated in the research.

The report found that all G-20 countries would attract investment should their governments took aggressive action. New renewable energy additions could exceed 177  gigawatts annually by 2020 in the most optimistic scenario, according to the report.

Pew examined countries that implemented renewable energy policies over the past five years. The crux of its findings is that investment follows clean energy policies, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. G-20 member states account for the majority of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

More specifically, Pew determined that only the most aggressive policies could help curtail global warming at two degrees Celsius; the European market will mature, but will have several new entrants; and that the focal points of private investment is shifting toward China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Indeed, China has assumed a leadership role at the Cancun conference on climate change this week, but again rejected any binding international agreement.

The United States would attract $342 billion in private clean energy investments over the next decade, the report found. However, the chances of that happening are in flux: climate change legislation has stalled in Congress, and a popular grant program is set to expire at the end of the year.

It is likely that the EPA's upcoming rules to regulate carbon emissions would have some impact, but any regulation may be more stringent and less acceptable to businesses than anything Congress concocts. Don't investors like certainty and stability?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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