TODAY. The Times got it right about 5 reasons for hope on climate action, but very wrong on one.
I wonder why journalists do this? Presumably, this Times writer is not ignorant, not stupid. And yet, slipped in amongst some genuine factors about clean energy sources and energy efficiency, – we come to his uncritical admiration for nuclear fusion and small nuclear reactors.
The writer does mention the “prototype nuclear fusion” planned for 2040. A fat lot of good that would be – we need action now – not promises for the nebulous far-off future!
As always – I am stunned at the corporate journalists’ complacency – in trotting out the military-industrial-corporate-government line on matters nuclear.
The connection here is that small nuclear reactors have only one genuine use – to assist and promote the nuclear weapons industry
Six reasons to be cheerful about the climate’s future. Times 9th Nov 2022
Growth in emissions is slowing, clean energy is cheaper and electric cars are denting oil, Adam
Between warnings from the Cop27 climate conference in Egypt
that the world is on a “highway to climate hell” and “the planet has
become a world of suffering”, it can be easy to think that no absolutely
no progress has been made on curbing global warming.
It is certainly true
that the world is falling wildly short of its 1.5C climate goal target. But
it is simultaneously true that great strides are being made in the world of
science, business and technology, as the following six examples show.
(1) Global carbon emissions growth has slowed; The emissions from humanity’s
cars, factories and power stations are still going up, when scientists say
they need to have fallen 45 per cent by the end of this decade if the world
is to rein in warming to 1.5C. The silver lining is there are signs that
emissions are hitting a plateau.
(2) Renewable energy is rapidly getting
cheaper. Most authorities, including the International Energy Agency (IEA)
and leading scientists, think that wind and solar power will be the two key
technologies for decarbonising the world’s electricity supplies. Between
2010 and 2019, the costs for solar energy fell by 85 per cent. Wind energy
fell costs fell by 55 per cent. Investment is pouring into renewable energy
at a record rate, with $226 billion invested in the first half of 2022
according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which tracks clean energy
Global energy demand growth will now “almost entirely be met by
renewables, the IEA said recently. In the UK, the cost of offshore wind and
solar has fallen by 80 to 90 per cent over the past decade. “Wind and
solar are now the cheapest way to generate electricity in most of the world
and, in the UK, we get as much electricity from renewables as we do from
gas,” said Evans. In July, five new offshore wind farms due online from
2026 won a government auction to deliver power to consumers at £37.35 per
megawatt hour, a fraction of the cost of gas-fired power plants now.
(3) High gas prices have made cutting emissions cheaper. The UK’s Climate
Change Committee, an independent body which advises the government on how
to meet its carbon targets, said in June that soaring gas prices meant that
meeting net zero would flip from a 0.5 per cent cost to GDP by 2035, to a
0.5 per cent saving by 2035.
(4) Technology can be seen as a breath of
fresh air. Energy efficiency improvements have delivered huge gains, with
better appliances and LED bulbs saving the average UK household £290 a year
between 2008 and 2017. Typical household energy bills today would have been
£40 a year lower if David Cameron hadn’t cut insulation programmes in 2013.
(5) Other countries are passing climate laws: President Biden came to Cop26
in Glasgow with a promise of halving his country’s emissions by 2030, but
no domestic plan to deliver the cuts. This time John Kerry, his special
climate envoy, can boast that America recently passed legislation that
commits the country to spending £318 billion on clean energy. The package,
which largely consists of incentives for key technologies such as wind and
solar power, electric cars and hydrogen, is expected to deliver a 40 per
cent emissions cut by 2030, not far off Biden’s target.
(6) Innovative new
technology is gaining traction: Previously far-off ideas are nearing
commercial reality, and the UK is pioneering many of them. The UK is
planning to build the world’s first prototype nuclear fusion power station
by 2040. A new generation of new nuclear power stations backed by
Rolls-Royce, much smaller and hopefully easier to build than conventional
ones, are working their way through the UK’s nuclear regulatory approval
process. Giant electrolysers are being built next to an offshore wind farm
in northeast England to split water and produce a clean supply of hydrogen.
The UK government is even taking seriously the prospect of space-based
solar power, where solar panels in Earth’s orbit beam a steady stream of
electricity back to the planet’s surface.
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