Tuvalu, one of the small island states that faces a literal threat of obliteration due to climate change, has vowed to generate all of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The estimated cost of doing so for the nation of 12,000 people is US$20 million.
The approach is a sensible one, given that the only hope for such states is swaying the world’s major emitters into being more aggressive about emissions reductions than they would otherwise be. Nevertheless, the prognosis for states like Tuvalu and the Maldives is pretty bleak. When rich states talk about ‘dangerous’ climate change, they seem to be defining it largely in terms of their own national interest. Furthermore, most states still haven’t adopted targets consistent with stabilizing greenhouse gasses at a level likely to avoid more than 2°C of temperature increase, and none have taken serious steps towards implementing a plan capable of reaching those targets.