Reports

Powering the Low-Carbon Economy Report Cover

Worldwatch Report #184: Powering the Low-Carbon Economy: The Once and Future Roles of Renewable Energy and Natural Gas

Over the past decade, renewable energy and natural gas have emerged as potential cornerstones of a low-carbon power sector. Wind and solar resources are abundant and can be converted into electricity using technologies that emit no greenhouse gases. Natural gas offers a cleaner alternative to coal that can deliver sharp, immediate reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector—if new supplies can be produced responsibly.

Natural Gas and Sustainable Energy Initiative Briefing Papers

This briefing paper series is designed to explore and communicate the potential of natural gas, renewable energy, and energy efficiency to work together to build a low-carbon economy. The papers provide a forum to examine potential environmental, social, and political obstacles that must be addressed if natural gas is to accelerate, rather than delay, a low-carbon energy transformation.

This publication available for free download.

Worldwatch Report #183: Population, Climate Change, and Women’s Lives

The growth of population is a major factor behind climate change today. Human-caused climate change is fundamentally an imbalance of scale, as people release heat-trapping gases into Earth’s atmosphere faster than the oceans and living things can remove them. This imbalance stems from both the explosion of technologies made possible through the combustion of fossil fuels since the late 1700s and the more than sevenfold increase in human numbers since that time. 

Worldwatch Report #182: Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in China: Current Status and Prospects for 2020

Over the past few years, China has emerged as a global leader in clean energy, topping the world in production of compact fluorescent light bulbs, solar water heaters, solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, and wind turbines. The remarkable rise of China’s clean energy sector reflects a strong and growing commitment by the government to diversify its energy economy, reduce environmental problems, and stave off massive increases in energy imports. Around the world, governments and industries now find themselves struggling to keep pace with the new pacesetter in global clean energy development.

Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry

This report draws on lessons from Germany, Spain, Japan, and China, the four dominant international rail manufacturing countries, to conclude that greater investment in U.S. rail manufacturing could revive America’s former leadership in the world rail industry-–and potentially create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Written for the Apollo Alliance in partnership with Northeastern University and the Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness.

Worldwatch Report #181: Global Environmental Change: The Threat to Human Health

Over the past two-to-three hundred years, humanity’s ecological footprint has ballooned to such an extent that we are now fundamentally altering the planet. We have transformed the Earth’s land surface and altered the function of its ecosystems, and we are triggering the rapid loss of both terrestrial and marine life. We are also profoundly changing our planet’s climate. It is increasingly apparent that the breadth and depth of the changes we are wreaking on the environment are imperiling not only many of the other species with which we share the ecological stage, but the health and wellbeing of our own species as well.

Worldwatch Report #180: Red, White, and Green: Transforming U.S. Biofuels

Over the last decade, biofuels have been championed in the United States as a new source of income for rural communities, as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil, and most recently as a solution to the country's energy and climate change problems. These latter concerns are now the main driver behind the promise of biofuels, leading the United States and other governments across the world to encourage greater production and use. But as the market for biofuels expands, so too do the social, economic, and environmental impacts.

Renewable Revolution: Low-Carbon Energy by 2030

The transition to a highly efficient economy that utilizes renewable energy is essential for developed and developing countries alike. This is the only way that degradation of Earth’s climate system can be halted, and the only real option for raising billions of people out of poverty. The current reliance on fossil fuels is not supportable by poor developing countries, and increasing demand for fossil fuels is creating dangerous competition for remaining available resources of oil and gas. The challenge is to devise a transition strategy that improves the lives of all citizens by providing them with essential energy services that do not disrupt the climate system, degrade the environment, or create conflict over resources.

Worldwatch Report #179: Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use

Land makes up a quarter of Earth’s surface, and its soil and plants hold three times as much carbon as the atmosphere. More than 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions arise from the land use sector. Thus, no strategy for mitigating global climate change can be complete or successful without reducing emissions from agriculture, forestry, and other land uses. Moreover, only land-based or “terrestrial” carbon sequestration offers the possibility today of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, through plant photosynthesis.

Worldwatch Report #178: Low-Carbon Energy: A Roadmap

Technologies available today, and those expected to become competitive over the next decade, will permit a rapid decarbonization of the global energy economy. New renewable energy technologies, combined with a broad suite of energy-efficiency advances, will allow global energy needs to be met without fossil fuels and by adding only minimally to the cost of energy services.