Friday, December 30, 2011

Wishes of lower carbon-intensity for 2012

The Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change share the ultimate objective to stabilize the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) at a level that will prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.
Scientists have pin-pointed a 2 degrees Celsius rise in global average temperature from pre-industrial levels as the highest rise at which Humanity has a 50% chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
Energy consumption is on the rise, despite the 2008 financial crisis and the economic crisis that followed. With the continuing growth of the population in developing countries such as China, already the world's largest energy consumer, and the growth of the global GDP, stabilizing the atmospheric concentrations of GHGs requires an alternative development paradigm with significantly lower Carbon-intensity.
As the oil reserves diminish, forcing the exploration of more difficult to access reserves and increasing the production costs, one thing is certain: the days of cheap oil and cheap energy are coming to an end. The lower Carbon-intensity economy will develop in the coming decades, it is inevitable. The question is whether it will deliver in time to avoid disastrous socio-economic and environmental effects of climate change.
I must say I am reasonably optimistic. Countries and corporations worldwide have two alternatives in face of the inevitable shift towards a lower Carbon-intensity economy. They can plan ahead and seize this challenge as an opportunity to become more efficient in energy production and energy consumption, thus increasing their competitiveness, or they can refuse to see ahead and pay the consequences for lagging behind a few decades from now.
These two currents are already emerging. As the USA and Canada walk away from the legally binding compromise to lower GHGs emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, China is stepping in for the second commitment period negotiations. Today, a Chinese State-owned company (China Three Gorges Corporation) signed an agreement to become the largest stakeholder of the Portuguese energy-utility EDP. EDP's subsidiary “EDP renewables” is a world leader in renewable energy, being the third largest wind energy operator in the world.
I for one am very curious to know what the future will bring us. For this coming year, my whish is that government and corporate leaders worldwide will have the vision and wisdom to embrace the efforts towards an economy of lower carbon-intensity. 
Happy New Year everyone!

- A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050, European Commission, 2011;

- RTP1.

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