The Triple Crisis – An Update

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As a close observer of the energy and climate global scene since 2004, I have to say that 2012 was full of interesting news and I thought I should offer a selection of the most important ones.

Many countries unveiled last year large efforts to tackle climate change and high energy prices. On all continents, good news is piling up. However, I have to note that the unveiled efforts won’t be enough to be stop or mitigate enough global warming, but it’s a start.

Will 2013 continue these trends and represent in the future as the beginning of a cleantech arms race or a green energy revolution? Are we finally seeing governments tackling our current triple crisis? We shall see.

Americas

Albeit its economy is growing steadily, Brazil has succeeded in decreasing its greenhouse gases emissions as deforestation of the Amazon rain forest is at its lowest in over 25 years.

Up north, Mexico passed a most ambitious law to fight climate change in April. As local newspapers reported, this was a landslide as there was 280 votes for and only ten against. This would lead the country to slash by 50 percent its greenhouse gases by 2050.

Solar energy and American flagAlbeit still lagging behind other nations in recognizing the climate imperatives, the United States have shown some amazing progress in the past few months.

Indeed, US emissions have decreased by seven percent since 2006. The local energy sector has witnessed the retreat of coal and a booming production of natural gas and renewables.

On top of this, the Obama administration has enacted new fuel efficiency rules that will save up to three million barrels of oil per day.

At a local level, an interesting initiative called RGGI have allowed the power sector of nine states to cut their emissions by 23 percent in only three years. These are the first of many necessary steps…

Asia – Pacific

Forbidden City, in ChinaAs China is confronted each day with more pressing energy and pollution issues it has understood that a clean energy future is not only possible but the only way out of its problems.

Indeed, it has recently announced that it will spent around 300 million dollars per day on energy efficiency in the next three and a half year. The $372 billion efficiency program will cut by thousands of tonnes coal consumption.

Similarly, the People’s Republic could could cap energy consumption by 2015. This will be difficult to do as energy consumption increases by double digit figures annually.

After the nuclear incident of Fukushima, Japan has unveiled a comprehensive plan to curb emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This project will heavily rely on solar energy and other renewables sources. The country enacted generous feed-in tariffs for solar, wind and geothermal.

Albeit Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorest nations, it is currently witnessing a solar energy boom as no less than a million households installed cheap solar panels to power their houses and businesses. Up to five million installations are planned by 2015. A huge success story that should inspire us all…

In neighboring India, the massive blackout that deprived 700 million of inhabitants of electricity will likely give a huge boost to renewable energy projects as they are more and more appearing as the perfect fit to solve all the energy issues encountered by this growing super power. The world’s largest democracy is willing to add 30 GW of renewables by 2017.

South Korea will enact  in 2015 a carbon trading scheme that will cover sixty percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Last but not least, Australia introduced this year a carbon tax and created the world’s largest marine reserve.

Africa and Middle East

In Africa, the great green wall has recently received a billion dollar from the World Bank. This huge project is due to plant trees across the continent from Senegal to Djibouti in order to stop the progress of the Sahara.

This project could literally plant billions of trees by 2025 and help million of people feed themselves and get out of their abject poverty.

Morocco has also unveiled in 2012 a plan to ramp up its renewable energy production. It is indeed willing to have 42 percent of its energy coming from renewables by 2020.

Finally, in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has decided to invest massively in cleantech as it is willing to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy.

You truly know you are in the middle of a revolution when the guardians of the temple – in this case, the largest oil producer – are embracing a paradigm shift.

Europe

The European flagOne missing : the European Union is failing at ramping up new commitments or plans on energy and climate. Albeit it unveiled in the past a comprehensive 20-20-20 policy by 2020 there is very little signs that it is willing to go for bigger goals, and this despite how easy these ones could be reached.

Indeed, the greenhouse gases emissions of the Union just keep on decreasing. Let’s hope the recent vote of the European Parliament will be followed soon by decisions and actions.

Conclusion

All this good news is most unfortunately very far from enabling us to ensure a viable climate by mid-century as the predictions from the 2007 IPCC are far from what we are witnessing with the US drought or the melting Arctic.

Given how climate is warming and weirding, and given how we are already moving forward without trying that hard, I am confident that national governments can act more drastically.

To conclude, it is up to us as climate hawks and random citizens to demand more action in the right direction in local and national scales. These 21 Initiatives to Bridge the Gap are an idea…

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About Author

Fascinated by sustainability and cleantech since 2004, Edouard wrote both his Bachelor of Arts' dissertation and Master's thesis on sustainable energy topics. He haven't stopped writing on these subjects ever since. A French Master's graduate in international management, Edouard has had several experiences in Marketing and Communications in Europe. He worked for firms as diverse as a German water treatment company, a leading French business school and lately a Belgian automation specialist. He is currently for hire globally. Since 2007 Edouard has been selecting for his own blog the latest headlines and best researches on sustainable development, climate change, cleantech and the world energy sector. With over 1,600 published articles, he is read all over the world. On Cleantechies, Edouard has been proposing since June 2009 news articles and opinion pieces on on French and European policies. Don't hesitate to contact him as he is always interested in discussing with new people.

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