Unless we start reducing fossil fuel consumption drastically and fast, irreversible changes will happen in the Arctic and that will affect all of us.
At the U.N. summit on climate change held in Paris soon, world leaders will join in an attempt to curb their emissions in order to avoid warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius past the industrial age. We’re already 0.9 degrees warmer and by the looks of the pledges filed by member states ahead of the talks, a more realistic target seems like 3 degrees. In other words, the framework – which will not be legally binding – will only have moderate effects, when more ambitious action is required. One big part of the problem is fossil fuel subsidies, which last year amounted to $452 bn. in total for all G20 member states. Oppositely, renewable energy – a field which actually deserves to be subsidizes since its new tech and isn’t mature yet – was subsidized by only $121 bn. or four times less.
The third largest emitter of carbon emissions, India, pledged it would reduce its emissions relative to its GDP between 33 and 35% by 2030 relative to 2005. India, a rapidly developing country, will continue its industrial expansion which includes, of course, building more coal plants and releasing more carbon emissions than it does today, however what the government, in fact, pledges is decoupling emissions from economic growth. It’s a sound victory for the planet, but to achieve its goals India will require help from developed nations. Hopefully, this might be possible under a common climate-protection framework on a global level which will be discussed in Paris during the UN talks scheduled in November.
The Scandinavian nation has set its mind on ridding itself of fossils fuels. To this end, the government announced it will increase spending on climate-protection measures for the next year bringing it to $546 million. That might not sound like much but Sweden is a small country which already uses energy very efficiently. It also gets three quarters of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources, mainly nuclear and hydro.
A while ago I wrote about how the fossil fuel divestment movement is gathering a huge momentum, as more and more funds, universities and companies are choosing to migrate their financial assets away from fossil. The movement is spearheaded by Bill McKibben, one of the founders of the 350.org group, who first organized rallies and lobbied key partners. “Almost from the start, academics have called it the fastest growing such anti-corporate campaign in history, and it’s clearly accelerating by the day,” said McKibben. But I don’t even think McKibben himself predicted how far divestment would go. It was launched more like an awareness campaign on the dangers of global warming. It’s grown fast, for sure, but this fast? Let me run some numbers: according to a report released by Arabella Advisors, $2.6 trillion in assets have moved away from fossil portfolios or 50 times more than last year. That’s not just a dent anymore – that’s serious cash!
A shocking conclusion came from an International Monetary Fund report: they found that fossil fuels will be subsidized by a whopping $5.3 trillion dollars, way more than total health spendings of the entire world combined.
Amid crashing oil prices and a divestment movement from fossil fuels, one of the most important banks in the world, HSBC, advised its clients to exercise caution when considering investing in fossil fuel assets. This was communicated through a private report, called ‘Stranded assets: what next?’, picked up by Newsweek. Inside, analysts warn that fossil fuel companies might become economically non-viable in the future, considering tightening emission regulations throughout the world. Considering HSBC’s portfolio, we can only take this as a sign that the fossil fuel industry is growing increasingly vulnerable, while renewables are shifting gears and growing at a fast pace driven by technological advances.
Hybrid nuclear plants, working in conjunction with geothermal, shale oil, or hydrogen production could help slow climate change, and provide more cheap energy – when used . More than the sum of its parts Many efforts have tried to smooth the transition of renewable energy and fill in its gaps, and a rather viable, yet costly and complicated solution is