The world has a lot of the tools required to stop climate change The United Nations climate
research team said in the last month. But we will have to develop new and improved solutions
too – Climate change mitigation
The issue is what kind of research companies and governments should fund.
In the final chapter of its most recent comprehensive review on climate research, United Nations
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change looked at ways to limit the effects of climate
change. For the first time, in its time span of IPCC reports the panel has dedicated chapters to
technology and innovation development.
The report details the ways that wind energy, solar power, and other battery technology which
emit very little or any carbon dioxide have achieved huge improvements in efficiency and price
and are now more practical than ever before to move all of the planets away from fossil fuels at
a quicker pace than we thought. These advances “have increased the economic attractiveness
of low-emission energy sector transitions through 2030,” according to the report.
However, fossil fuels provide around 80 percent requirement of the world’s energy demands.
Global greenhouse gas emissions seem to be relatively stable for the past decade currently, however, to prevent the planet from warming to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius which is 2.7
degrees Fahrenheit in the next century, the emissions need to be reduced to half of they are at
now by the year 2030.
And despite all the advancements in technology, the rate of implementation of clean energy is
much too slow to hold the risk of more extreme warming under control. Getting on track will
require more affordable, efficient, and effective versions of the equipment that we currently
have. But it will also require advancements in the nascent clean technology such as the capture
of carbon dioxide directly out of the air.
However, the political will and money to address climate change are scarcely available across
the globe in the face of the competing demands of the Covid-19 pandemic, the inflation rate, as
well as international conflict. With limited resources and time, it’s crucial to determine which research can produce the most effective strategies to fight climate change.
It’s hard to know what investments will bring about breakthroughs, however, some researchers
believe there are ways to increase the chances. It’s important to consider the ways that potential
innovations could grow and draw investors and demand policies that create the conditions to
enable a larger green energy revolution.
How did wind, solar, and batteries come to be so inexpensive
To determine where to go next with clean energy innovations it is helpful to look at the
remarkable achievements that have been achieved.
The cost of solar power has decreased by around 89 percent from 2010 the silicon panels for
solar have increased their effectiveness by 15 to 26 percent in the past 40 years. Onshore wind
cost of energy has decreased by 70% over the past decade. Lithium-ion batteries have dropped
in cost by nearly 97 percent in the past three decades, and the capacity to produce energy has
almost tripled over the course of just 10 years.
Renewable energy is now the most affordable source of energy production across the globe. In
the majority of countries, the installation of new solar or wind power sources is less expensive
than operating existing fossil fuel power stations.
These changes were triggered by huge government investments as well as energy policies, with
certain private-sector support. Photovoltaic panels, for instance, benefitted from research
conducted in the United States, Japanese companies creating solar-related applications and a
hefty feed-in tariff incentive in Germany as well as huge production scale-ups in China. The
process of development lasted for several decades, beginning starting with those first solar
panels being invented in the 1950s and the foundational research starting during the 70s.
Governments also contributed to the growth of the demand for renewable energy by
establishing targets for their installation and subsidizing the cost of purchase.
However, the technology itself has several common features that made them so rapid in its
development. One of them is that they can expand or reduce. Solar panels can be compact
enough to fit into the backpack of a child. The larger panels can illuminate homes and hundreds
of them can power a large city. Wind farms range from a few turbines to hundreds. Lithium-ion
cells are used to power everything from mobile phones to aircraft. This means that tiny gains in
performance and price reductions quickly can add up. These smaller scales also have an easier
cost barrier which means that people are more likely to play around with these technologies and
discover uses for them, accelerating their adoption of these technologies. As these systems
develop they will gain economies of scale and the costs start to fall.
Contrast this with massive energy sources like nuclear power stations, which need millions of
dollars upfront and require many years to construct. In the United States, nuclear is one of the
few energy sources that the cost has increased in the past.
The efficiency of solar, wind, and batteries is “really counterintuitive to what I was taught in
graduate school,” said Gregory Nemet Nemet, who is an IPCC researcher and professor at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. The traditional wisdom has long believed that a major issue
such as climate change required large-scale solutions. “What we’ve learned is that small-scale
technologies are likely to turn out to be more scalable than large-scale technologies,” Nemet
In order to get green energy, it is better for you to begin small before trying to then go large
rather than start with a big goal and grow.
What should you think about when investing in the future generation of
IPCC authors frequently say that they don’t recommend any specific policies or suggest an
exact course of action regarding climate change. They simply review the quality of the research.
Yet, the most recent report shows that some energy strategies are quicker and more affordable
than others. In the array of green energy options available, today Wind and solar remain the
most cost-effective and fastest methods of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power
sector until 2030 According to IPCC.
“If we’re going to focus on anything and not say ‘all of the above,’ those are the technologies
that matter,” Nemet stated. “We’re missing an opportunity if we don’t take advantage of what
we’ve got now.”
The technology itself has potential for improvement however, what’s needed isn’t an improved
solar panel or wind turbine but more general policies that will encourage greater adoption.
Residential solar power is a significant source of energy, but more than 70 percent of the price
comes from ” soft costs” such as permitting, inspections, installing, and financing instead of the
price of the equipment itself. Solar power could be much more cost-effective, with prices dropping a further 50% in 2050 according to certain estimates however it will take the removal
of all red tape.
Although it is often not considered a form of technology energy efficiency is an alternative
affordable, scalable, and ready-to-use method of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The IPCC
report revealed that the 18 nations that have seen sustained reductions in emissions for over a
decade did this by doing more for less. “Reductions were linked to energy supply
decarbonization, energy efficiency gains, and energy demand reduction, which resulted from
both policies and changes in economic structure,” according to the report.
For instance, increasing the insulation on buildings can make a huge dent the greenhouse gas
emissions by decreasing energy demand. Based on the Natural Resources Defense Council
that boosting the efficiency of residential energy use is the most significant carbon
dioxide-reducing action across the US.
For renewable energy sources which are in their development, there are a variety of aspects to
take into consideration, said Erin Baker, professor of the Energy Transition Initiative at the
University of Massachusetts Amherst. The most important factor to consider when evaluating
investing is to consider the probability of success, multiplied by possible benefits. Renewable
energy sources that are adaptable and come with low costs to start are, in fact, the ones most
likely to succeed. However, it’s equally essential to cast as broad a net as is possible, instead of
spraying a stream of money into a particular technology until it proves to be effective.
“To the degree that you can do things agnostically, it’s always good, because we don’t know
where the next breakthrough is going to come from,” Baker stated.
There are some particular renewable energy requirements, however, they require additional
backing immediately, including instruments for storing, distributing, and keeping the electricity
quality from the grid. “The biggest category is these things that make the grid reliable,” Baker
explained. “Some of that investment is technologies but some of that investment is more
processes, business models, and regulations.”
One area in which the world has to spend more money is the removal of carbon dioxide (CDR)
in which carbon dioxide is absorbed directly from the atmosphere. Although there are concerns
that this could create a moral risk in areas like shipping, aviation, and heavy industry emissions
could never be reduced to zero. Therefore, meeting the international climate goals will require a
method to eliminate those emissions.
“The deployment of CDR to counterbalance hard-to-abate residual emissions is unavoidable if
net-zero CO2 or [greenhouse gas] emissions are to be achieved,” according to the IPCC report.
There are numerous companies currently working on CDR technology, but CDR is still
expensive and energy-intensive. A consortium of tech companies comprising those that are the
parents of Google as well as Facebook recently resolved to tackle CDR by a different method by
generating demand for CDR. The companies created Frontier which they call the term used to describe an “advance market commitment,” which will pool nearly $1 billion to secure the
purchase of carbon dioxide for permanent removal.
These types of commitments can be a way to speed up the development of green technologies
However, conventional incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies remain crucial as well. In
the case of climate change among the most crucial strategies is to place an end to CO2
emissions. “Based on a detailed sectoral assessment of mitigation options, it is estimated that
mitigation options costing [$100 per ton of CO2] or less could reduce global GHG emissions by
at least half of the 2019 level by 2030,” according to the IPCC report.
Climate change creates time-bound requirements. To stop global temperatures from increasing
beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius is not as simple as cutting down on emissions for the next 8 years,
but actually achieving net no emissions in 2050. Then creating zero emissions after that which
means taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it put in. Thus, a development,
research, and deployment strategy need to be able to look at multiple perspectives which
include increasing solar and wind energy today, investing in technology like hydrogen, nuclear,
and CDR in the longer term as well as making long-term bets on nuclear the fusion of energy as
well as pursuing the possibility of geoengineering.
Although more advanced technology is essential for reducing the climate’s effects, it’s not
enough. The most groundbreaking breakthrough will not mean anything if no one can buy it or
utilize it. Innovations in clean energy don’t address the underlying injustice of climate change,
which is that those who contributed the least to the issue will be the ones to suffer the most.
However, the people who have produced the highest amount of greenhouse emissions are the
ones with the most wealth to adjust to the inevitable warming that is coming.
Therefore, keeping the riskiest climate change risks off the table is more than the latest
batteries, solar panels, or business plans. It’s about eliminating the inequities and bad habits
that led to the problem in the beginning. It will require a new approach to how the world divides
the costs of climate change, as well as the benefits of making the transition towards greener