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Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

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Is Decarbonization Threatening Europe’s Energy Security?

  • The energy crisis that is unfolding across the globe could set the world back in terms of carbon emissions as coal and gas demand skyrockets.
  • China will burn and import more coal this year than it did last year, seriously imperiling the nation’s own emissions pledges as well as the world’s chances of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
  • Achieving net-zero is going to require an extremely delicate balancing act as the world struggles to move away from fossil fuels while keeping the economy running smoothly.

Later this month about 25,000 people are headed to Glasgow for the 26th annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP26. The UK, this year’s host of the Conference of the Parties, has asked participants to submit more ambitious targets for emissions reductions by 2030 in order to enable the possibility of achieving global net-zero emissions by mid-century. Conference leaders have also asked for increased monetary contribution to climate adaptation and mitigation funds, and have the stated goal of finalizing the regulatory framework for implementing and enforcing the pledges made in the 2015 Paris agreement.

At the same time that the world ramps up for the latest and most robust global climate meeting, an energy crisis is unfolding in Europe and Asia which could set the world back in terms of carbon emissions, and which showcases just how difficult the road to decarbonization will be. As global economies have surged back to life in the post-pandemic era, demand for consumer goods and services has skyrocketed. While consumers have largely bounced back to business as usual, however, supply chains have not been able to keep up. 

In the energy sector, supply has simply been unable to keep up with demand, causing an energy crunch and severe price spikes in the European Union, China, and India, leading to massive disruptions of supply chains and industries around the globe. In Europe, the EU is trying to walk a tightrope act between getting enough natural gas from Moscow to stay afloat without seriously compromising their energy security and giving the Kremlin too much geopolitical power. India is seriously at risk of running out of coal, which accounts for 70% of the national energy mix. In China, many energy companies have simply stopped producing, as coal prices have skyrocketed but national price caps prevent energy companies from raising electricity prices accordingly, forcing them to either run at a deficit or shut down entirely Related: Is America Doomed To Replicate Europe’s Energy Crisis?

The energy crunch and resulting energy insecurity in these regions has highlighted the extent to which all of these governing bodies, which have made considerable climate pledges, are still reliant on fossil fuels. Indeed, China has now lightened its restrictions on coal mining for the last three months of the year in order to keep the lights on and keep supply chains in motion, meaning that China will burn and import more coal this year than it did last year, seriously imperling the nation’s own emissions pledges as well as the world’s chances of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. 

What’s more, China’s energy crunch stands to hurt consumers across the globe as energy shortages have forced Chinese production to slow down at a time that demand for Chinese-made goods is surging as consumers start spending again post-Covid. And the energy crunch is just the latest in a long series of pandemic-related unfortunate events for global supply chains, including worker shortages, microchip shortages, and shipping shortages. This means that we can expect rising prices on all kinds of goods while inflation is already on the rise in many countries. 

Achieving net-zero is going to require an extremely delicate balancing act as the world struggles to move away from fossil fuels while keeping the economy running smoothly. This current crunch is likely just one of many similar hiccups to come. However, if these bumps in the road continue to send energy-strapped countries back to coal, as this current snap has done, that spells out major trouble for the climate. The green transition likely won’t be easy or smooth, and will almost certainly continue to hurt consumers in the process, but the alternative is far worse.

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com

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  • Kay Uwe Boehm on October 12 2021 said:
    Solar desalination and purification set with black bottom plate and flapable side walls, one (plexi) glas and gutter, black coca cola colour to add in salty or dirty water placed in sun in hot area enough water ?

    There is always enough water in air also not rauning down but to be condensed out of air with pressure increase increasing the boiling ooint and cooling just ask scuba divers filling their air bottles but needs much energy that is no problem if eternal and cheap but not needed also delivering energy from air heat instead burning fossil fuels for that and aircondition for free just sucking hot air with centrifugal compressor inside more hot and dense cooled with CO2 for turbine at end in turbune cycle 2. cf comoeesor CO2 backflow cooling of whole turbine system that way thermal isolatable no heat lost then air expanded driving partly comoressor is cold same if letting out from scuba diver bottle or icing CO2 bottle and much water condensed out of air new technology to make the turbines also for coal or nuclear power plants can double electricity output and halving price usable also for sabatier CNG out of H2O electrolyse H2 + air CO2 easy out with gas centrifuge since more heavy than O2, N2 & Ar.

    Cold fusion shooting protons or Hg nucleoses into water side effect Hg-197 decay gold.
    India did starr or build also Na sodium fast breeder reactor recommended about same with lirhium-7 isotope as coolant & neutron moderator for thorium breeding secure with bubble slow down effect that Na does not have and very less neutron capturing left for fission and breeding also more reserves melting
    180 boiling 1340 critcal not liquid always gas at 2950°C water 274°C, itself never radioactive, better cooling than Na, hot only 0.5g/ccm means all extractable etc.
  • Lee James on October 13 2021 said:
    Cutting out coal and nuclear power production in Europe, while giving priority to renewable energy, is indeed a balancing act.

    Economies are beginning to pick up again after struggling under COVID. Europe is facing increased demand while traditional sources of energy are held to be increasingly problematic.

    Yes, we are all in search of the right balance of energy sources. And our assessment of each available energy source will yo-yo back and forth as weather, natural disasters, pulse of the economy and geopolitical considerations weigh on energy policy decisions and energy consumption choices. We'll have lots to read about in coming OilPrice articles!

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