The rate at which our climate is changing is alarming. This generation is witnessing the worst moment in the history of our climate. We have since the beginning of the century witnessed warmest second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year.
The year 2015 has been adjudged as the warmest since the recording of the global temperature started more than hundred years ago, and if the trend continues, subsequent years will be warmer and worst. When we experience a warmer day, the consequences are terrible. Intense precipitation in some places and a corresponding drought in others with rising sea level, flooding and heat wave; the situation is far from accommodating.
These are not spontaneous events; they are the consequences of decades and centuries of human quest for a better and comfortable life. Temperature level of 2 degree Celsius is unacceptable. To reverse this trend and keep the global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius we must as a matter of urgency phase out carbon emissions for coal, oil and gas to zero now. In one of his recent article published by EcoWatch, James Hasen declared that “as long as fossil fuels are allowed to be held up as the cheapest reliable energy, they will continue to be the world’s largest source and the likelihood of disastrous consequences for young people will grow to near certainty”.
Our planet cannot afford further delay in the need for this phase out; it must be speedy with all commitment. From the recent study, it was found out that even if the pollution stops today the consequences will live with us for some centuries to come before we go back to a normal planet. We can’t procrastinate. In my view, 2050 is too late for our phase out target.
The transition process will create massive number of jobs. About 20 million jobs have been estimated to come directly from this according Greenpeace in cooperation with the German Aerospace centre.
Among the greenhouse gases is methane which has a higher warming potential than CO2 in the short term. According to current estimates, the fossil fuel industry contributes about 22 percent of global methane emissions. According to Eco Watch, methane emissions from the global fossil fuel industry are upto 60 percent greater than existing estimates from the new comprehensive analysis of global methane emissions.
Human quest for energy is as old as man himself. From the beginning of civilization until the mid-eighteenth century, humans used wood burning as their primary source of energy. It was used mainly for heating but also, to a lesser degree, for smelting and distillation. Owing to a smaller global population, the CO2 gas generated did not saturate the absorption capacity of plants and the oceans. Consequently, it did not have a significant negative effect on the environment.
Things began to change significantly when the steam engine was invented in 1750, historically sited as the beginning of the industrial revolution.
Coal has been since then the primary source of energy turning the wheels of our industries, expanding our global reach, increasing our yields and manufactured goods, shortening our distances and making possible transcontinental transportation either on land or by sea.
In 2013, the international energy agency (IEA) estimates the energy consumption at 9,301 Mteo or 3.89×1020 joules. This equals to an average power consumption of 12.3 terawatts.
The renewable energy enjoys a significant growth from 2000 to date faster than any other time in history during this period. This can possibly be attributed to increase in international investments in renewable energy. The demand for nuclear energy is decreasing, possibly due to the accidents in Chernobyl.
Dirty energy production and consumption does not only lead to the build of the green house gases but also increase the concentration of pollutants such as sulphur oxides, nitros oxides and particulate matter. The World Health Organization estimates that 7 million premature deaths are caused each year by air pollution.
Reporting in 2016, REN21 (Renewable Energy policy Network for the 21st century) said renewable energy contributed 19.2 percent to human global energy consumption and 23.7 percent to their generation of electricity in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
About US$286 billion is said to be the world wide investments in renewable technologies in 2015, with countries like China United States investing heavily in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.
Renewable energy can be sourced from all geographical location, unlike the other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of locations. Significant energy security, climate mitigation and economic benefits are achieved from the rapid deployment of renewable energy.
Now the first comprehensive treaty to address global warming will come into force in early November after several countries agreed to it ratification. we can now say by November, the Paris Agreement will become an international law.
A total of 72 countries representing 57 percent of greenhouse gas emissions had officially joined the pact. the aim is to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2 degree Celsius.
This is an awesome feat, particularly considering the fact that entry into force of the pact comes 30 days after ratification. So our heads will be held high and our mind at rest as we prepare for Marrakech.
Achieving this feat should not be an opportunity to relax; we must keep on until all countries are on board as we can’t afford further emission.
BY Musa Mohammad Tanko : Regional project Manager (Africa) ATO-ClimatEducate