Earth Chat

Climate Change Update - Where We are Going




The next major step forward is COP 26 Glasgow, in November 2021. It is expected that all nations will submit new emission reduction targets along with their plans to explain how they will reduce their emissions by 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

COP 26 is the last opportunity we have to avoid irreversible climate change and save humankind on our planet.

To do this it is imperative we reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 as the first step. If we miss this target, we cannot avoid irreversible climate change.

Fortunately, Governments and politicians around the world are belatedly beginning to wake up to the realities of climate risks. Legislation is being formulated that is needed to:

 

  • share the burden of massive change (Green Finance)
  • refocus market expectations (Carbon pricing)
  • Provide incentives to expedite carbon mitigating new technologies like renewables, zero carbon energy
  • Remove barriers such as subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a carbon price

 

Businesses, Industries and investors have realised they must change and adapt to the changing climate. They are demanding government action. Stock markets are clearly favouring sustainable businesses and shunning dirty businesses.

Markets and economics of new technologies as well as renewable energy are natural drivers of change. Wind and solar generation with batteries are now producing electricity far cheaper than continuing to operate conventional generation.

Fortunately, many countries have recognised the one Key Enabler is putting a Price on Carbon emissions. This has the natural effect of making high carbon products and services more expensive.

All of these developments demonstrate that there is a way to avoid irreversible climate change, they all need to be significantly accelerated to meet 50% carbon emissions reductions by 2030

It is not all Bad News - The Way Out.

Renewable, Zero carbon electricity such as wind and solar and batteries are delivering electricity much cheaper than continuing to operate conventional power stations.

Zero carbon electricity has a number of advantages over and above zero carbon emissions.

The first is Electric vehicles. EVs.

Internal combustion engines are less than 30% efficient. EVs are greater than 80% efficient. So we should adopt EVs now, even if the electricity supply is not yet carbon free. Adoption of electric vehicles has started but needs to be greatly expedited. We can do this NOW. This, in turn would have the flow-on advantages of less demand for oil and gas and the significant reductions in air pollution.

But, what about planes, ships and large trucks and busses?

The next big zero carbon form of energy is Hydrogen.

Green hydrogen produced by electrolysis using renewable energy is a giant step forward.

Hydrogen is the fuel for Fuel Cells that generate electricity. The hydrogen is stored in tanks. Fuel cells are ideal for large transport vehicles because they can run on normal electric motors.

However, the next big use of hydrogen is for the production of green steel. At the moment, 2.4kg of CO2 is emitted for every kg of steel produced. And there are billions of tonnes of steel produced every year. Green steel using hydrogen is virtually CO2 free.

The growing demand for hydrogen is encouraging [1]. Unfortunately it is not yet zero carbon, but it is opening the way ahead for a global adoption of green hydrogen.

Most applications that use oil or gas can be converted to use electricity. Fortunately, this is already happening and is a key component in reducing our carbon emissions.

There is definitely a clear way forward to avoid irreversible climate change. The technology is proven and it is, or soon will be economic to do so.

Zero carbon electricity, transport, steel and heating will allow us to reduce our emissions by more than 50% by 2050.


[1] International Energy Agency

Photo source: UKGBC


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