CO2 Trend Part III
According to EQUZHOU, China has long realized that growth cannot continue in the same direction. The government has changed course almost overnight, and the use of coal has been slowed down. In several regions and cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the authorities have ordered – with days’ notice – to close the most polluting companies. In Bergen, some people complain about date driving on the few coldest and clearest winter days when air pollution is at its worst. In Beijing and Shanghai, there is constant date driving – with many more restrictions. Only cars with numbers ending in 0 and 9, can drive on Mondays, and 1 and 8 on Tuesdays, and so on. Some roads are reserved for cars with a specific sign first. Heavy transport is only allowed to run at certain times of the day and some days not at all.
But the most important thing is that China is now investing heavily in renewable energy . The country is now the largest producer and developer of solar cells and wind turbines. From the top, it has been signaled that they will live up to their obligations under the Paris Agreement – regardless of what the United States does. Fortunately for the world. However, other developing countries have followed China on the path of growth, like the other BRIC countries ; Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. BRIKS can now be updated with, among others, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma and a number of other countries in Asia, Africa and South and Central America. In addition to developing polluting industry, both Brazil and Indonesia have made major interventions in untouched nature to fuel their economy. In recent years, India has taken steps to make some people envision unrestrained growth similar to that of the former Chinese.
In India and several countries in Southeast Asia and Africa, we still see an interesting trend . The massive investment in renewable energy resources over the last 10 years – power generation based on renewable resources – has drastically reduced the cost of installing new plants. By massive investment, we mean the installation of new, renewable, energy-generating projects with a total power production of around 100 gigawatts per year. This means that India, which is expected to expand coal-fired power plants on a large scale, has experienced that the price of energy from solar panels fell by 40% within one year. It is an international record. Solar energy is now significantly cheaper in India than the cheapest coal-based energy. The price of wind energy has also fallen sharply and is now competitive with the price of coal.
Furthermore, the price of loans to renewable energy producers in India is falling, simply because the financial market seems to have greater faith in the long-term nature of renewable energy compared to fossil energy. Then we can expect a further fall in the price of clean energy both in India and in several other countries.
In addition, India has plans to expand electricity production from solar, wind and biomass energy to 175 gigawatts in 2022. The authorities expect an increase to 275 gigawatts in 2027. Therefore, they have officially stated that India does not need more coal power plants in the next 10 years than the 50 gigawatts with capacity already under development. If this trend is supported by system reforms and proper enforcement of the regulations, it looks brighter in India as well.
But this is how it looks to society at large. If we look at rural India and other rural areas with widespread poverty, we see another positive trend . They are reluctant to connect to the electricity grid in the countries.
Connecting rural areas – often remote – is very expensive. This is a price that potential consumers usually cannot afford to pay. In addition, they are often skeptical about becoming dependent on such central networks. They are used to the system being corrupt and the supplies therefore depend on bribes to key people. In such areas, we now see a new opportunity emerging: the use of solar panels .
Since solar panels are starting to become so cheap , it has also become possible for individuals in villages to invest in small facilities. Such facilities are large enough to supply oneself and to sell charging options for mobile phones and the like to others. This also creates value creation in rural areas and warns that the expected development of large central power generation plants to bring electricity to the whole world may not need to take place.
6: The peak today is not sustainable
Have we then reached the peak of CO 2 emissions in the world? It is positive that the curve seems to flatten out, but this top level is not sustainable in a longer perspective. The curve must face downwards and go towards zero.
The nascent wave of hope in the wake of the Paris Agreement (COP21) has led to 102 of a total of 197 countries ratifying – finally approving – the agreement. More will probably follow.
The goal of the Paris Agreement is that global warming should not exceed 2 ° C, and preferably not 1.5 ° C. To achieve this, new technology must be implemented, new instruments must be in place and progress must be traceable across national borders. The most important thing, however, is that emissions are reduced.
Global warming and total CO 2 emissions have long shown about the same increase. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has set the reference point for 1870, and if we are to have at least a 66% chance of reaching the temperature target, the accumulated (sum of all emissions) CO 2 emissions after 1870 must not exceed 2900 billion tonnes of CO 2 .
So far, we have released 2075 billion tons . The remaining “emission quota” is thus only 825 billion tonnes, and it is being reduced rapidly: If CO 2 emissions remain at the current level, this quota will be used up in 23 years. If we increase the probability of reaching the 2-degree goal to 90%, we only have 10 years available.
The important thing now is to avoid the cautious optimism that results from an apparent stabilization of global CO 2 emissions becoming a sleeping pad. Rather, we must be motivated by stabilization.