For anyone still in doubt about climate change, the recent floods and unusual heat waves around the globe will be difficult to ignore. Floods in China have killed dozens of people and have led to warnings from the People’s Liberation Army of the possible collapse of the Yihetan dam. More than 135 people died in India when the recent heavy flooding caused major landslides. Heavy rainfall in Pakistan has left entire cities flooded and 20 people dead. A heatwave in Canada hit new records last month with more than 130 people dying because of the heat. Floods in Germany, Belgium, and Italy left 200 dead with a huge swath of land destroyed as millions of tons of trash swept the countries. Lebanon is grappling with wildfires as well that are now spreading into Syria. Turkey is fighting more than 50 fires that are spreading rapidly as a 60-year temperature record has been broken, Greece has its own fight against 56 active fires. Meanwhile, flash flood warnings were issued in Miami. The intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are climbing, and the recent IPCC report highlighted just how important it was to counter that trend. It is against this background that one must engage with the technology narrative that argues Negative Emissions Technology (NETs) will save us from the specter of a climate crisis while we continue to grow. This promise, however, is a false one. It is important to note that technology will play a pivotal role in the collective progress against climate change, but to focus solely on technology would be a mistake. There are multiple issues with technological solutions, including their commercial viability, their scalability, and their effectiveness.
Related: The Future Of Oil Is Offshore The following charts demonstrating the impact of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology puts things into perspective. Clearly, reliance on CCS only is not a viable answer.
Source: Ketan Joshi
The IEA’s 2050 Roadmap calls for a “3-4x scale up” in renewables per annum till 2030 as compared to 2020 and at the same time assumes a “59x scale up” of CCS per annum till 2030. When compared to the historical growth in both renewables and CCS, it is clear that these figures are incredibly unrealistic.
Source: Ketan Joshi
It is a dangerous idea to use a ‘technological will fix all’ approach to justify the pursuit of continuous growth. Instead, we need to start to wrestle with the idea of Degrowth. According to The Absolute Impact 2021 report by Carbon Tracker Initiative, at the current rate of emission, i.e. 41.5GtCO2 per year, we only have 22 years before we see global temperatures rise by 1.75 degrees. That gives an idea as to how quickly the world needs to deal with its emissions problem.
It means there isn’t enough time for the world to wait for new technology to solve the problem. It is at this point that Degrowth becomes a very appealing idea that policymakers should pursue. To begin with, this involves rejecting the link between growth and improvement in the standard of living. This has to be countered, of course, by the fact that as the population grows more energy will be consumed. Importantly, however, “high energy civilizations” may face the risk of decline due to limitless consumption of energy. This is a good point to segue into the argument that Degrowth should begin in developed countries in order to allow the developing world to catch up.
Related: Nordic American Tankers: More Oil Is Coming To The Market
Why? It is well known that developed countries have used fossil fuels for centuries to fuel industrialization and pave the way to where they are right now. Coal and then hydrocarbons played a momentous role in this journey. Today, not only have the detrimental effects of this growth been skewed towards the global South, but the discrepancy between per capita energy consumption is still shocking. Jason Hickel in his book, The Divide, highlights that 83 percent of deaths due to climate change occurred in the lowest carbon-emitting countries, and of 588 billion tons of carbon emissions (figures until 2017) 70 percent came from industrial economies. Another very interesting measure used is Global Footprint Network’s per capita ecological footprint where a negative number shows that they are in an ecological deficit (biocapacity is less than what is being consumed). Each human can consume roughly 1.8 global hectares (gha) per annum, similar to what people in Ghana consume, but in more developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada, the number is a staggering 8 gha per annum. Despite constituting only 10 percent of the global population, the EU and the U.S. account for 23 percent of global emissions.
One can continue to highlight the discrepancies between not only the energy consumption but also the carbon emissions of more developed and less developed nations. The fact is that for many developing countries, fossil fuels remain a key lifeline as their population grows and endeavors to improve its standard of living. At the same time, and as the recent report by IPCC shows, we must cut global emissions. There is an urgent need to strike a balance, to find purpose in being moderate, and to let go of the relentless pursuit of growth.
By Osama Rizvi for Oilprice.com
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Still, there is no doubt that climate change is happening. But the continuous bombardment of its destructive impact on the globe by media, environmental scientists and doomsday seers is not only infuriating a huge section of the world’s population but it is also putting their backs out.
There were many instances where the IPCC, environmental scientists and University professors have massaged facts and stretched them to breaking point just to justify their research or their political leanings.
Therefore, it is quintessential to separate the truths from the myths when discussing climate change and global Energy transition.
Unfortunately, any discussion about climate change and energy transition usually pits fossil fuels against renewables and quickly degenerates into another predictable polarization story.
There&amp;#039;s little doubt that large-scale use of fossil fuels tops the list of factors contributing to climate change according to data from the Brookings Institute.
This begs the question that if there is such concrete evidence that fossil fuels contribute to climate change and other environmental problems, then why do we still use them?
On their own, renewables aren’t capable of satisfying global energy demand because of their intermittent nature. Moreover, global energy transition won’t succeed without major contributions from both natural gas and nuclear energy. This means that net-zero emissions are a fallacy. Furthermore, the global economy will come to an immediate standstill without oil.
Against these facts, the relentless pressure on oil supermajors to divest of their oil and gas assets continues. None will abandon their core business, namely oil and gas. While the European supermajors will try to greenwash themselves as a sop to the environmental lobby, their American counterparts have the courage of their convictions to openly declare that their core business will remain oil and gas as long as there is global demand for them.
So the calls to ditching fossil fuels will, in effect, amount to naught. But let us assume that the world did ditch its fossil fuels, what would be the consequences?
The global economy will collapse and civilization as we know and cherish will be no more. It will be a virtual destruction of normal human life with horrific starvation, plagues, conflicts and nuclear wars spreading all over the world. In a nutshell, it will be the end of the humanity.
So peoples of the world have a choice between (1) accepting emissions which may or may not destroy our planet as nobody can be sure about that not even the Nobel prize physicists or (2) a certain and assured death as a result of starvation and plagues and even nuclear wars with nuclear powers trying to grab whatever resources they could get their hands on and in so doing destroy the whole planet.
I for one will definitely opt for emissions with pleasure.
The only rational and sensible way to combat climate change is to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels and not the actual use of fossil fuels.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business