A comment published in this week's science Journal Nature, an international team of scientists from nine nations demand a grand challenges strategy to set priorities on a global level for developing renewable energy.
According to the authors, the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are dropping is not even meeting the goals set out in 2015’s Paris Agreement on climate change. They urge a targeted, internationally coordinated effort to determine and address the scientific, economic, and policy challenges hindering the widespread adoption of renewable energy.
"Renewable energy ... is a difficult, urgent global problem that has been neglected in terms of public research and investment. It requires big thinking, multidisciplinary approaches and supportive policies to compete with existing systems. And it is tightly coupled to global challenges, such as food and water security, poverty and health," the authors write.
The authors propose an approach based on the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative to treat neglected diseases. The initiative was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Wellcome Trust, and the Foundation for the US National Institutes of Health in 2005. Fourteen priority areas were identified as part of the initiative, which include devising a genetic strategy to destroy insects that are responsible for the outbreak of diseases such as Zika virus and yellow fever.
They suggest the participation of national governments, philanthropic foundations, funding partners, and other private-sector actors to establish an international science board of renowned researchers, industry leaders, policymakers, and engaged citizens from developing and developed nations. The board would generate an extensive list of renewable energy challenges in areas, including policy levers and economic models, energy harvesting and storage, smart grids and transmission.
"Such a shared purpose ... would accommodate the many disciplines needed across the natural and social sciences, and galvanize the best investigators - regardless of country - to work together to help solve one of the world's most pressing problems," concluded the authors.
A copy of the comment can be obtained upon request.