By JEROME DE VERA
Global power consumption is the one of the main topic of discussion into the upcoming COP22 Climate Conference in Morocco. With 180 signatories to date, energy transition is on the top agenda for respective national pledges to implement the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.
Our adrenaline to rapidly change our utilisation of energy comes from the terrifying effects of climate change. Increase in global temperatures has seen sea-level rises, land degradation and ocean acidification. Millions of livelihoods around the world centred on agriculture, fisheries and tourism are already at great risk which demonstrates the social and economic consequences of global warming.
The immediate transformation of our energy consumption is imperative, especially for heavy polluters such as China, the US and the rest of G20 nations who accounts for about 80% of the world’s CO2 emissions. For the entry force into the Paris Agreement, each nation submits their pledges in what’s called an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which shows how much greenhouse gas emissions they are planning to cut by a specified date.
Although after the submissions, some of the international community still requests for more ambitious targets as it is estimated to be inadequate to achieve the current goal of maintaining global average temperatures to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
Global transition requires domestic investments into cleaner and efficient energy technologies whilst phasing out fossil fuel dependent sources. Many countries around the world, are already well under way in achieving their energy targets and some are even pushing towards 100% renewable energy!
For a period of time, when wind and solar were strong, some countries in parts of Europe like Portugal and Germany have already experienced full reliance into renewable energy.
Many of these changes will take place in mega-cities such as Beijing and New York as it is expected that more than two thirds of carbon emission will be coming from these dense populated areas. These heavy load centres require constant electricity supply and thus low carbon base-loads such as hydro, nuclear and geothermal usually replace the coal power plants in the grid.
For example, China have been ambitious in their nuclear energy developments as they plan to build at least 20 nuclear power plants by the year 2030. Furthermore, they have been leading fast developments into renewable energy sources, overtaking all of Europe in the investments on wind and solar.
The development of sustainable urban infrastructures is also paving the way to energy efficient cities, reducing overall power consumption.
Local governments should seek to form smart and sustainable cities with electric transportation, energy saving technologies on office buildings and other intelligent systems that provides energy efficiency.
In the recent years, Australia’s national electricity consumption is slowly declining due to the roll outs of energy efficient technology and increasing number of installations of household solar PV.
On the other hand, rural and regional areas are also important in this transition as some of these places has not even been connected to the grid.
With the COP22 being in Morocco, it is anticipated to have a certain African focus particularly on topics such as poverty alleviation and climate adaptation. Providing proper lighting to homes, greener cooking methods, transportation and telecommunication are essential developments to lift up poor communities.
As the developing nations in Africa and Asia, look for new electricity supply to accommodate for their growing population, they must not follow the path of their predecessors before them, who concentrated on fossil fuels. These evolving countries must skip the phase of coal and oil power plants and quickly start the renewable and clean energy era.
With time running out, there is no choice but to change and we rely on the immediate action of individual governments and the brilliant minds of problem solvers to quickly seek a solution to this devastating reality.
Transitioning to cleaner energy sources is not only inevitable to save our planet but also to maintain economic and social order. This is why energy transition is one of the key goals to achieve a much cleaner and sustainable world for the future generations.
Jerome De Vera attended the 2016 G20 Youth Summit held in Beijing and Shanghai, China as an Australia delegate on a Global Voices National Scholarship.