While developed nations are calling for an immediate (and unrealistic) shift to a 100% renewable energy future, governments in developing countries continue to work to solve historic energy poverty on several continents. In the case of Africa, with more than 600 million people without electricity and another 900 million without access to clean energy for cooking, abandoning fossil fuels and their infrastructure would have detrimental impacts on the whole of society, reversing any significant progress in their economies.
Europe's developed nations, despite pressuring developing countries to abandon fossil resources, also turn to coal and natural gas to power their economies. Germany, for example - which is the eighth largest coal producer and fourth largest consumer globally - increased its coal imports by 12% last year in the face of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. In the same year, the United Kingdom approved its first new coal mine in almost 30 years.
However, these same countries claim that coal has no future in Africa and developing countries. At the last G7 meeting in Japan - a country highly dependent on energy imports and with a policy of using all sources to guarantee energy security - the use of variable energies (solar and wind) was discussed. The International Energy Agency presented a report and concluded that it is necessary to maintain 5% to 15% of firm, dispatchable energy to maintain a stable electricity supply.
More recently, Sweden's Parliament abandoned some objectives aimed at 100% dependence on renewable energies by 2040. This will allow Swedes to use natural gas until 2045, when the nuclear matrix will be included as part of a long-term energy generation strategy. Diversification of sources remains the best way to achieve energy security. Developed countries, which have gradually phased out coal as part of their energy mix, continue to fight for the energy security they claimed to have achieved after abandoning fossil fuels.
The so-called "energy trilemma" (security, environment, cost) is one of the basic principles of the whole discussion. There is no single solution for the energy matrix. Each country must find its own way, and the Eurocentric discourse cannot be adopted by Brazil. As President Lula says, other countries cannot dictate the rules in this area, because we are already an example of a clean energy matrix.
Commercial and geopolitical interests must be made clear to our society. We need to guarantee reliable, accessible, secure and decarbonized energy systems. By adopting a balanced approach that combines low-carbon thermal sources (coal and gas with CO2 capture, nuclear power) with renewable sources, we can guarantee a reliable energy supply, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve long-term sustainability goals. The discourse is one of inclusion, not exclusion.
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