Renewable energy technology offers silver lining

– open democracy

Fossil fuel lobbying and neoliberalism must not hinder the potential for increased renewables, writes Paul Rogers

In a series of warnings about the impact of global warming, the World Meteorological Organization reported that future extreme weather events could affect the world’s energy supply as badly as the war in Ukraine.

WMO’s 11 October State of Climate Services report also used data from 26 organizations to conclude that we need to double our use of clean energy by 2030 if we are to avoid climate collapse.

The report’s conclusions are broadly similar to those of a much-publicized UN document ahead of last year’s COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow, which called for a 7% annual reduction in carbon emissions over the decade. A year later, that target has not been achieved, so it must now be reduced by 8% per year, but the chances of getting close to that target taper off over the course of a month.

So, on the face of it, there is reason to be deeply pessimistic that the war in Ukraine will only make things worse. However, this is far from the whole story, as there are other trends that can be seen as reasons for cautious optimism.

Renewable energy experts have been pointing to a potential shift in their field for several years, mostly around a series of technological improvements that have led to significant reductions in the cost of generating electricity from renewable sources, which could continue for some time. The next few years.

Over the past four months, results from research projects at Stanford and Oxford universities have confirmed this to the point that it now makes sense to develop and deploy renewable energy technologies rather than any other means of generating electricity.

These results come at a time when the shift to renewable energy is already accelerating, with the IEA reporting:

By 2026, global renewable energy generation capacity is projected to increase by more than 60% from 2020 levels, to more than 4,800 GW—equivalent to current global fossil fuel and nuclear power generation combined. Renewables will account for nearly 95% of global electricity capacity growth by 2026, with solar PV alone providing more than half.

The impact of this on rapid decarbonization is only now beginning to be recognized in finance, industry and even some political circles, and this is the most positive news in years and even decades.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be smooth sailing to a low-carbon world now. In some countries, this is because of ideology hindering change, political intransigence; more generally, because of backlash from the fossil fuel industry.

The UK is one of the worst examples of political opposition, as the new Truss government seems intent on matching EU regulations to provide environmental protection and is staunchly opposed to the need for decarbonisation.

It doesn’t make sense, especially since the UK has extraordinary potential for harnessing renewable energy reserves, mainly wind and solar, but tidal power also has considerable potential. This is one area where the UK can really be a world leader, in addition to better energy savings from the Rapid Insulation scheme.

Richard Reeve explores the enormous lobbying power of fossil fuel companies in a recent Rethinking Security paper he co-authored:

‘The biggest two [corporations], Shell and BP are the two largest companies in the country by revenue. By 2021, even before the surge in energy prices, their combined global revenue would be equal to almost one-seventh of the value of the UK’s entire economic output (13.7% of GDP) or about 30% of UK government spending. While most income is not taxed in the UK, it does buy them significant leverage over the media, politicians and society, helping them set the agenda and pace of the energy transition.

As he later noted, this lobbying power is far greater than the much smaller but numerous companies that make up the renewable energy industry.

It is here that a new understanding of the potential of renewable energy could be a game-changer. While largely opposed to changing votes in the fossil fuel industry, it adds a political dimension to the currently dominant far-right ideology of market fundamentalism in a way so fixed that it does not accept the need for government-level intervention sex. market.

The problem with this view is that it makes no economic sense beyond that. Commenting on the Oxford study cited earlier, a BBC report cites one of its authors, Doyne Farmer’s apparent conclusion: “Even if you’re a climate denier, you should support what we’re advocating for. Our central conclusion Yes, we should go full speed ahead with the green energy transition because it will save us money. Even the neoliberal politicians who are most convinced that we are caught in the “anti-growth brigade” really pull the economic rug.

For anyone who firmly believes that radical decarbonization is crucial to global stability, we now see the potential for a fundamental shift in the renewable energy argument to strongly support them. It may be premature, but even now there is some much-needed optimism for a real reason., Oct. 14. Paul Rogers is Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies in the Department of Peace Studies and International Relations at the University of Bradford and a Fellow Emeritus of the Joint Services Command and Staff College.

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