How can we peak emissions and fast forward towards Net Zero ?

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I dedicated to peaking greenhouse gases emissions two blog posts in the past few months. Chinese greenhouse gases emissions – and with them global ones – are to peak either this year or next. Unless they peaked last year ? This is the topic developped in Carbon Brief’s lengthy analysis.

No one will know for sure until we have indeed gone beyond peak. While this is is good news, one should not forget that Humankind as a whole is still due to halve emissions by 2030 if it’s keep some chance of staying at 1.5°C of warming. We will likely zoom beyond that point. But we can still avert runaway catastrophic global warming. We have gone a long way and we are just getting started.

As I was commenting on Linkedin, I have asked myself so many questions on the energy consumption of the most affluent billion people on the planet, namingly how can we get all of them to consume much less energy and still keep an acceptable level of comfort ? What are these said levels ?

How can we boost energy efficiency and conservation and get energy sufficiency on the table ? Getting the most affluent to slash their energy consumption (direct and indirect) by 10 to 20 percent would have massive effects. Such drops in energy consumption have been witnessed in Europe as fossil gas became more expensive with the war in Ukraine, but how can we make sure that energy consumption remains low ? With super cheap renewables getting more and more online, how can we make sure consumption doesn’t bounce back ?

Yes, technology can help us get there – heat pumps, renewables, electric bikes and vehicles… – but we most definitively need societal changes, systems change even. Systemic changes are paramount if we are to collectively survive the 21st century and prevent a Mad Max future. This is some political, social and economic conundrum, and it has to be solved fast.

In parallel, how can we stop subsidizing fossil fuels to the tune of 7,000 billion USD a year ? How can we turn these daily 19 billion USD into something that would actually help populations have access to energy while not wrecking our very lives ? That’s some wicked problem right here given how Exxon, Shell, Total and the others are litterally hellbent on blowing our planet for their profit. How much human suffering could we prevent by doing so ? So many fascinating questions.

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