In recent months I have become totally “wrapped up” in the energy transition occurring across the world. The whole transformation we are undertaking is not just for our energy sake; it is for more for our climate sake and having a sustainable future.
Energy is one of the critical drivers of our well-being, providing one of the essentials to survive and thrive. We need water, food, air, shelter, and sleep, and our source of energy underpins all of these as the energy transition in its solutions are aimed at cleaning up our climate and environment before it is too late and give us more energy to power the next growth cycle.
We are suffering increasingly from polluted air; we need increasing intensive farming. We are living in a very crowded planet where our shelter (home) becomes our “place to be or simply survive” Our water supplies need consistent refiltering as freshwater is increasingly growing in shorter supply. Humans need their sleep, and it is the environment that enables that, and as 70% of the world’s population by 2050 will live in cities, all are becoming “highly dependent” on energy to fuel the system.
We are becoming highly dependant on one of the key outcomes of energy, electricity. It “powers” our lives in connectivity; heating, cooling, data, and much, much more, in industry, communications, health systems, etc. Many people today argue we are losing our battle for survival as our planet is heading towards a real crisis in global warming making it a place that will increasingly be a tough environment to thrive without a major intervention or evolution.
Energy holds one of the most powerful “keys” to change the path we are on, one where we stop polluting the world, threatening so much of what we know. The need is to move significantly away from a reliance on fossil fuels that are the main polluters and energy source into clean energy, harnessed from renewables of the wind, sun and the use of water and effective use of biomass, such as purposely grown energy crops, wood or forest residues, waste from food crops, horticulture, food processing, animal farming, or human waste. We need to move away from extracting minerals that have a finite source; we need to focus on extracting energy from all the sources of renewables.
To undertake such a colossal change in our energy system there is the need to undertake a radical shift in the “upstream” part of the energy system. We need to move from coal, gas, and coal and switch to wind, solar, hydro, or hydrogen is a massive undertaken, driven by science ‘informing’ us of this urgent need and by innovation to get us there.
This “triggered” wholesale need to change also applies to the transmission and “downstream” infrastructure within the energy system. This is not just to adjust to renewables but to resolve the antiquated power systems that have been in place, sometimes for a century or more. Equally monopolies of energy suppliers needed to change, and we also see the opportunity to move towards a more consumer (prosumer) relationship where each of us increasingly determines our own energy needs, that we consume and feel comfortable in using. We are moving towards a new energy system and energy market.
The catalyst to this wholesale energy change was the Paris Agreement
To quote from Wikipedia: “The Paris Agreement was an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement’s language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015. As of March 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 187 have become party to it.”
“The Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.
“This should be done by peaking emissions as soon as possible, in order to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases” in the second half of the 21st century. It also aims to increase the ability of parties to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and make “finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”
Under the Paris Agreement, each country must determine, plan, and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming. No mechanism forces a country to set a specific target by a specific date, but each target should go beyond previously set targets”
So why am I writing something we should all already know?
Simply because we are not doing enough, our pace of change in the energy transition is not happening as quickly as it is needed. We are not biting the bullets of changing regulations and policies, adopting carbon omissions targetted on the polluters to change, and within the “vested” industries there is a consistent blocking of change to suit their interests.
We lack leadership here. We need inspirational leadership. John F. Kennedy made one of the most famous “call to actions”
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
We do need a call to “collective” action on solving our rapidly warming climate, but it is through our “connection” to energy, and especially electricity, we need this moment of inspiration to contribute to making a change.
What would be your inspirational statement of “We choose to make our energy clean and sustainable”?