The world is on course to sail past the recognized “safe” level of 2 degrees Celsius of warming to as much as 3 degrees Celsius, according to the latest Wood Mackenzie Energy Transition Outlook.
The Paris Agreement aims to limit warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” and ideally to limit it 1.5 degrees. Yet just as efforts toward that goal are finally scaling up — via the EU’s amplified climate targets, China’s new carbon-neutral target for 2060, and other examples — the coronavirus pandemic has introduced a massive dose of uncertainty.
“As the world begins to reconstruct its economy, all energy and natural-resources sectors will face a survival of the fittest,” said Prakash Sharma, head of markets and transitions for Asia-Pacific at Wood Mackenzie. “We call it the ‘Darwinian challenge’ because society and investors must evolve and adapt to the changes needed to overcome the twin crises and prepare for the future.”
While the world is adding renewable power generation capacity and manufacturing electric vehicles, it is still not enough. No efforts have been made to decarbonize the existing infrastructure.
Emissions will continue to increase unless there is an incentive to rationalize the carbon-heavy assets or retrofit them, with carbon capture and storage — a herculean task without an appropriate tax on carbon.
We need more policy support than is available today. Governments need to actually sponsor these projects to get them off the ground. But this path to decarbonization does not look to be possible for China and India.
We need a regulatory overhaul to make the 2-degree pathway a reality.
WoodMac reports that the investment levels required, though not guaranteed, appear to be attainable. The technology necessary already exists, even where it has yet to be scaled. All eyes now return to politicians and regulators.
Reference- Wood Mackenzie Energy Transition Outlook, Forbes, Cnet, The Guardian