Can we stop this?
If you were to bet on the future of energy, where would you put your money? Probably not in coal or oil. Companies and governments all over the world are thinking about the future. They are looking for energy that is renewable and safe.
A few years ago, many experts said catastrophe was ahead. The world is warming. Temperatures by 2100 could rise by as much as 5 degrees Celsius. That would bring extreme weather and damage to the environment. The world would face economic collapse, famine, and war. It would hit the poorest nations the hardest.
Some experts now say the temperature rise will fall between two and three degrees. Still, each fraction of a degree of warming means tens of millions more people will experience life-threatening events. These include heat waves, food and water scarcity, and flooding. What is the reason for the change? The world is not out of the woods, but progress is evident. The biggest reason is the decline in the price of renewables.
Leadership is both the problem and the solution. Countries are not living up to their commitments. For example, the European Union said it could only do its job when members agreed on policies.
The war in Europe is having an effect. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might have a good side. The energy crisis triggered by the war is likely to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner technologies.
Some countries have been burning more fossil fuels, such as coal, because of natural gas shortages caused by the war in Ukraine. Coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels. That means global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are expected to rise roughly 1 percent and approach record highs.
But the rising cost of fossil fuels propelled many countries to invest heavily in clean, renewable alternatives.
An expert said the rise in emissions would have been three times as large had it not been for a rapid increase in wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles worldwide.
“Many of these new clean energy targets are not there for climate change reasons,” he went on. “The big reasons are energy security as well as industrial policy. A lot of countries want to be at the leading edge of the energy industries of the future.”
If the world does not care better for the planet’s good, it may do so for the good of its economies.
Source: The New York Times October 27, 2022