Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

1 Dec 2020

Cleaner energy is coming

Posted by Michael Keating

As the world starts taking climate change more seriously, business is betting on an electric future. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, 73 countries, 398 cities, 768 businesses and 16 investors are working to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Since fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal – account for 84 per cent of primary energy, there is a gigantic shift ahead. Hydroelectricity at 6.4 per cent is still the largest non-fossil source but there are limited places for it to expand. Nuclear power is at 4.3 per cent but its growth is limited by costs and safety concerns. Other renewables are where the action is. An article in Bloomberg Green proclaims “The New Energy Giants are Renewable Companies.” It says a handful of companies that have invested heavily in solar and wind energy are overtaking the big oil companies in terms of their market value. Renewables are already cheaper than fossil fuel power in many parts of the world, leading to a shift in investments. The cost of solar power has dropped by as much as 90 per cent in a decade and big investments will keep driving down the cost of renewables. The question is can we make the shift fast enough to bring down greenhouse gas emissions before the cause catastrophic climate change. It’s not certain. Many countries are still subsidizing the production and transport of fossil fuels more than they are investing in renewable energy. The United Nations says the world should be cutting production of oil, coal and natural gas by 6 per cent each year by 2030 to keep global temperatures from rising too high. Instead, countries are projecting annual increases of 2 per cent in fossil fuel production.

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