COP21's doomsday questions and renewable answers

Jeremy Leggett for Recharge magazine: One hundred and fifty world leaders yesterday queued to give their three minute takes on the most important issue in human history, at the most important event in human history.
How could it be described otherwise, with civilisation, humankind and even life on Earth under threat, according to many of them?
The world’s media relayed the warnings and exhortations from the first day of the Paris climate summit back to its homelands. The UN had pulled up the drawbridge at 3,500 media registrations.
Film crews from the lesser networks filmed the screens showing the speeches. Other crews filmed them doing it.
Through every presentation, renewable energy recurred as the core solution, implicitly or explicity.
Britain’s Prince Charles began the day by telling the leaders and their negotiating teams to put the patient, our planet, on life support without further delay.
He urged them to end fossil fuel subsidies and spend the money on sustainable energy instead. “The absurd thing”, he agonised, “is we know exactly what needs to be done”.
President Hollande of France spoke next. Climate changes causes conflict like it causes storms, he said. What is at stake for this conference is peace in the short term, life on the planet in the long term. “Billions are watching us right now.”
“This is the moment we finally decide to save our planet,” said President Obama. The US has already begun to act, he said, citing his nation’s expansion of both wind and solar power.
Obama invoked Martin Luther King’s warning that there is such a thing as being too late. On climate, “that hour is almost upon us. Let’s get to work.”
China’s President Xi agreed. Tackling climate change is “a shared mission for mankind”, he said. For him, it is about more than that though. Back home, Beijing sat blanketed in hazardous, choking smog, on orange pollution alert, the second-highest level.
It was Indian leader Narendra Modi, his capital also cloaked in dangerous smog, who announced the biggest new development in the solutions to all this.
He and President Hollande unveiled a new global solar alliance of 120 countries, most of them from the tropical belt, to be headquartered in India.
“The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real,” Modi said.
“This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century.”
The alliance will be “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evening filled with a clear view of the glory of the sun”.
Tech industry leaders were not to be outdone: they had a clean energy coalition of their own to announce. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will consist of more than 25 investors from 10 countries, including Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Virgin Group head Richard Branson, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
This alliance of the mega-rich was announced in conjunction with Mission Innovation, an effort by 21 governments, including the US, UK, Australia, Germany, China and Brazil, to double the amount of public money going into clean energy innovation.
All in all, then, there was plenty of wind for the collective sails of the renewables industries on the first day of the most important gathering of governments ever.
But we will need our best sailing skills. Pope Francis, flying back to Rome from a trip to Kenya, had the following thought for us all to consider.
“Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word, I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.”