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Changing the world's energy course

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    Representatives of some 200 nations will meet in November in Egypt, convened by the United Nations, to decide on actions to reduce the polluting emissions that are affecting life on Earth. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human activities have increased CO2 concentration by 50%. According to NASA, this increase is slightly higher than that recorded 20,000 years ago and up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Polluting emissions from energy sources grew by 6.4% last year, due to the global recovery of economic activity, thus setting a record. Polluting fossil fuels still account for 80% of energy production, despite the expansion of renewable and clean energies.

    CO2 emissions (the main polluting gas) caused by fossil fuels were 18 times higher last year than in 1900. 2021 was the year with the highest emissions. Before the industrial revolution CO2 accumulated around the Earth reached 280 ppm, now it reaches 420 ppm.

    The World Meteorological Organization reports that climate events are "a clear example that human activities are causing planetary-scale changes in the land, ocean and atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting impacts" The last 7 years have been the warmest on record. In 2021, global temperatures were 1.11°C above pre-industrial levels.

    The world must act now this decade to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis and keep the temperature increase below 1.5°C".

    Gas concentrations are pushing the planet into uncharted territory as the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have increased over the past decade. CO2 is a long-lived gas (about 1000 years) and therefore the temperature level will persist for decades even if emissions are reduced belatedly.

    Many years of economic development based on fossil fuels have increased temperatures, droughts, storms and floods. According to the United States Observatory at Mauna Loa (Hawaii), there are only 13 years left to cross the critical 450 ppm barrier. Current cumulative emissions are already 17% higher than those existing at the time of COP-1 (1995).

    Energy is the source of ¾ of annual emissions of polluting gases. Eliminating these emissions by 2050 is key to preventing the temperature from rising more than 1.5 C. A transformation of energy production and use is required. By 2030, the world economy will be 40% larger, but coal, oil and gas consumption will need to be lower. To cancel emissions by 2050 requires investments in hydrogen, CO2 capture and storage and more investments in clean energy and technologies to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP. The International Energy Agency affirmed that there will be no need for new investments to increase the production of polluting fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).5 C global temperature increase is still possible according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) but it is necessary an improvement of the proposals of most countries , required by the Paris Agreement (2015) To face this task is crucial the leadership of the G20 countries , where are the most polluting countries such as China, USA, India, EU, Russia and Japan, as these countries account for 80% of emissions of polluting gases.

    Delays in acting will increase the economic, environmental and social costs. We must move towards zero-emission energy, so that by 2050 energy emissions will be 95 percent lower than they are today. . This requires a global consensus, led by the most polluting nations, to cut emissions; it is time to accelerate the transition to clean energy.

    The IPCC report on gas emissions states that to limit warming, emissions will need to peak by 2025 and be reduced by a quarter by 2030. If we do not change our pattern of energy consumption, the climate will continue to deteriorate, but the good news is that a new model of energy generation and use that accompanies economic growth without harming our environment is technologically possible. But we need to start now.

    The G-7 reaffirmed the urgency of reducing CO2 emissions so that by 2030 they are 43% lower than their 2019 levels. At the recent G-7 meeting, UN Secretary General Guterres said, "Our world is heading for climate chaos. Fossil fuels are not the solution, nor will they be." Renewable energy is one answer: to the climate crisis but it is not the only one, deforestation and land degradation must also be reversed. The same can be said of efforts to promote hydrogen and energy efficiency.

    The issue to be addressed this year in Egypt is to define actions to avoid crossing the barrier of a temperature increase of more than 1.5 C. John Kerry, representative of the United States at the previous meeting, had expressed that "this is already the last opportunity to agree on a firm abatement of globally polluting emissions, which is why a rapid transition to clean energy is urgent.

    The meeting in Egypt will decide our future, unfortunately the conflict with Russia does not help to agree on an effort that commits all the nations that inhabit our Common House.


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