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Naomi Klein: Solar is ready for prime time

Naomi Klein: Solar is ready for prime time

Solar is “ready for prime time” award-winning journalist and activist, Naomi Klein told Next Energy News at an event in London on Monday night.

Klein was promoting her new book on climate change, This changes everything, at a Guardian Live event in Westminster.

Talking to Next Energy News after the event, Klein praised and reiterated the rapid progression, and technical feasibility of the solar industry, “it’s amazing how fast it’s happened”, she said.

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The event was “a vital contribution and very compelling” to action on climate change and renewables transition, UK Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas who also attended the event told Next Energy News. “It’s inspiring and reaches people who are not activists,” she added.

Speaking on stage, Klein referenced the use of community solar, and said renewables are “100% possible” and referred to a 8-10% yearly cut in emissions needed to keep within the recommended 2 degrees Celsius global warming limit, only seen previously during The Great Depression. This she said provides an opportunity for “The Great Transition” into a greener economy.

Also on community solar and other renewables, Klein said “the unsightliness argument and NIMBYism disappears when energy distribution uses a decentralised, community controlled model.”

Klein repeated The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings that solar, and other renewables, have the largest technical feasibility in mitigating harmful emissions from electricity production.

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UK Green MP Caroline Lucas said the event was "a vital contribution and very compelling".
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In reference to geoengineering efforts towards fighting climate change Klein said “people think it is easier to turn down the sun than install solar panels, that is the world we have created”.

Klein also advocated the opportunity for job creation in transitioning to renewable energy.

More than 78,600 clean energy jobs were created in the US throughout 2013, solar topped the count, with more than 21,600 jobs announced over the year.

Klein also pleaded for clean industries, the UN and scientists to tone down on the use of jargon, “they all have their own language, such as feed-in-tarrifs and subsidies”.

A board member of the fossil fuel disinvestment group, 350.org, Klein also praised the large investments in renewable energy being made.

Klein highlighted the recent announcement of the Rockefeller Foundation to move investments from fossil fuels to clean energy. The Norway Oil Fund and Danish Pension Fund have made similar announcements over the last year.

Klein also praised UK groups, such as universities and faith institutions that have chosen to invest in renewables.

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Questioned by Guardian columnist Owen Jones, fossil fuel subsidies were also discussed as a barrier to renewables deployment, echoing The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, that “fossil fuel subsidies are bad for countries, for the economy, for the environment, efficiency, and most of all for poor people”.

Klein also referenced reports covered by UK sister site, Solar Power Portal, on UK public support for renewables and solar, especially over fracking. Klein specifically referenced the surprising poll that 87% of MPs support solar.

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The Guardian Live event was held in Westminster, London.

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