The ongoing war in Ukraine and Russia’s lowering natural gas supplies to Europe have caused prices to soar by 50 per cent.
Increasing fossil fuel prices worldwide has resulted in inflation, slow economic growth, reduced standard of living, and harsh political reactions as households struggle to pay for their bills.
Governments responded by returning to the comfort of cheap yet dirty fossil fuels to solve the crisis. US President Joe Biden visit Saudi Arabia to ask them to pump more oil.
Germany has increased the burning of coal to compensate for the drop in supply from Russia, while India and China resumed digging up record amounts of coal.
Reviving fossil fuel-powered plants and oil and gas infrastructure with 30 to 40 years remaining life in them will become harder to phase out.
The Economist article, “How to fix the world’s energy emergency without wrecking the environment“, discusses how governments can tackle the present energy crisis without hindering the clean-energy transition.
The article says that if governments fail to respond competently, they will activate a relapse on fossil fuels, making it harder to stabilise the climate. Hence, they “must follow a perilous path that combines the security of energy supply with climate security”.
How to fix (2022) gives the following recommendations on how to go about this path:
- The first is to ramp up fossil-fuel projects, particularly the relatively clean natural gas, but to shorten their lifespan between 15-20 years to align them with the 2050 net-zero goals. With countries in Europe and Asia with little LNG but must wean themselves off Russia, governments and the energy grid can intervene by giving them guaranteed contracts to allow them adequate return but with the understanding that they will shut down early. Another is for governments to offer subsidies in carbon capture storage technologies to make these projects cleaner.
- Governments should not ease down renewable, instead should strive toward increasing and improving the storage capabilities of renewables to allow expansion on the grid and remove obstacles that make it harder to do so.
- Governments should leave the “20th-century thinking” and instead get into “21st-century thinking”, which offers new ways to provide intelligent, resilient grids with the help of innovation in long-duration energy storage (LDES). Another option is to boost the production of hydrogen from renewable electricity and natural gas that lets out steam in facilities that store the emissions.
- Governments should also make nuclear power a safer and more viable energy source “by showing that there are better safeguards against accidents and new ways to store waste,” as Finland has done.
- Lastly, helping to make climate transition predictable and sure through increased investments. According to the International Energy Agency, investments must double to $5 trillion annually to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Governments’ response and commitment to this goal can boost investors’ confidence in climate technologies.
The Economist digital event, “The rise of climate technology,” explains how the world can reconcile the demands of energy security with climate security. It answers the question of whether green energy can be produced on a scale that meets the economy’s energy needs and stops climate change.
Listen to the magazine’s editors explore the technologies and incentives that can make this possible, from innovations in grid management and batteries to hydrogen and cleaner natural gas production.
How to fix the world’s energy emergency without wrecking the environment. (2022 June 23). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/leaders/2022/06/23/how-to-fix-the-worlds-energy-emergency-without-wrecking-the-environment
The rise of climate technology. (2022, July 1). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/films/2022/07/01/the-rise-of-climate-technology