With the help of social media activists, the war against climate change and lack of renewable energy have gained a lot of momentum during this decade. Even though the U.S. and China are investing more and more in renewables to reduce their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, we still lack the speed and the money needed to preserve our planet.
In the U.S., war on climate change is mainly being led by private companies and local governments instead of the federal government. It is because investing in renewable resources and campaigning for a cleaner world is a win-win situation for the companies. By investing in renewables, they are making a long-term investment to power their infrastructure while creating good content for their marketing campaigns. After a while, they don’t even have to advertise their long-term plans for zero emissions, and loyal customers will do it for them. Therefore, it is viable both from an ethical perspective and a pragmatist perspective, making it the perfect business plan.
On a more general note, according to a new report by researchers from Stanford University, globally reaching 100% renewable energy would require 73 trillion USD. Still, they claim it will pay for itself in seven years while also creating 28.6 million jobs globally. The report foresees countries may be able to reach 80% renewables during the upcoming decade. This initiative would require a total of 0.65% of 143 most polluting countries (responsible for 99.7% of the pollution). According to the report, it would save 63.000 lives a year just in the U.S. alone. The decarbonization plan would also reduce energy costs by $1.3 trillion per year because renewable energy is cheaper to generate over time than fossil fuels. Besides, the proposal would cut health and climate costs by $700 billion and $3.1 trillion annually, respectively, compared to current fossil fuel infrastructure.
These kinds of incentives will have to be taken into account during the upcoming decade. Volkswagen has accelerated its electric car plans from 1 million electric vehicles in 2025 to 1.5 million. With fast-growing Tesla, electric vehicles (EV) will be seen more and more over time, resulting in a decline for oil. According to the Houston Chronicle, the oil sector might be heading for the last decade of growth. Although OPEC claims demand will rise into the 2040s, Royal Dutch Shell and others believe it could even reach its peak before 2030. Also though U.S S&P 500 Index is up 25% in 2019, the index of oil and gas producers has decreased by 15%, and the energy sector only represents 4% of the index, dropping from a peak of 14%. The oil giant Exxon Mobil has also dropped from top 10 company list for the first time, and even though Saudi Aramco has taken place as the biggest company in the world, even reaching 2 trillion valuations during the boom in its opening, they have returned to 1.7 trillion with its stock value same as the opening, expected to drop further over time.
According to MIT Technology Review, our shift to clean energy during this decade has been pathetic. The cost of wind and solar farms has dropped by 70% and 90% meanwhile producing four times more electricity compared to a decade ago. But they’re not still being preferred over precious fossil fuels. Global electricity generation is still being led by fossil fuels, with 64.2% of the total, plunging only 3.2% from 67.4% in 2008. Nuclear energy’s place decreased by 3% as well, accounting for 10.2% of the total production. Meanwhile, renewable energy’s percentage increased from 2.7 in 2008 to 9.3 in 2018, still being the least used method even though they improved vastly with the help of technology.
EV’s are growing incredibly, but they are still a sliver of total car sales globally. Sales increased by over %100 by 1.2 million sales in 2017 (plug-in hybrid and battery electrics) to 2.6 million in 2019. But these are only out of a total of 85 million car sales. But with this growth, competition in the field is increasing as prices drop for the cars, helping the customers choose the environmental-friendly vehicles for the future.
For the future, building a system that fulfills zero-carbon needs, generating enough electricity for expected population growth while growing the economy, and making it fast enough to limit global warming to 2 ˚C would require our annual rate of clean energy additions to quintuple by 2040. It means that we are in trouble, and everything is not going great. With very few incentives and investments by governments, expecting private entities to do the investing, we won’t be able to reach any of the goals and live with little changes in our world.