The Cold War spurred America to create the Apollo program and commit to putting a man on the moon. The program brought together leading scientists and engineers, who worked diligently to achieve this aim. Leading academics are now calling for the same level of dedication to tackle one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change. The project, called Global Apollo, aims to make renewable energy cheaper than coal by 2025.
The initiative invites countries to join and pledge 0.02% of their GDP over a 10-year period to the program. The $150 billion project hopes to double the amount of money spent on research and development on clean energy. A global commission will be set up to create an international ‘‘roadmap’’ that will coordinate research and identify and unblock bottlenecks to cost reduction year on year.
UK’s former chief scientist Professor Sir David King, who is leading the project, 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.”
The program released a report stating that “the discovery of new, cheaper ways to produce, store and distribute clean energy” should be a new priority, and the current supply of clean energy should be subsidized until their costs go down. The report calls for an increased focus on reducing the cost of storing electricity, so that people can access sun and wind energy 24 hours a day, putting coal out of business.
“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,” said LSE economics professor Lord Layard, who is a member of the Apollo group.
Is Global Apollo’s goal even possible? The program models itself on the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, which has successfully reduced the price of semiconductors every year for thirty years.
“NASA showed how a stupendous goal could be achieved, amazingly fast, if the will and the resources are there,” Professor Martin Rees, another member of the Apollo group, told The Guardian.