There is no stronger incentive than having a clean(er) alternative that is actually cheaper.Having said this, at this early stage, where the combined share of renewables of the global primary energy supply is still minimal, it is not about cranking it up as quickly as possible by a few percent; it is rather about developing and perfecting techniques that can bring it up to much higher levels in a cost-efficient way in the long term. Note that whilst emissions in many developed countries have started to decline, this has more to do with a shift of industries towards undeveloped countries than an actual decline of emissions on a global basis.
There is no stronger incentive than having a clean(er) alternative that is actually cheaper.Having said this, at this early stage, where the combined share of renewables of the global primary energy supply is still minimal, it is not about cranking it up as quickly as possible by a few percent; it is rather about developing and perfecting techniques that can bring it up to much higher levels in a cost-efficient way in the long term. Note that whilst emissions in many developed countries have started to decline, this has more to do with a shift of industries towards undeveloped countries than an actual decline of emissions on a global basis.Given the unlikelihood of global carbon taxes we may have to resort to border carbon taxation (taxing goods imported from countries without carbon taxes).
Learning and economies of scale will reduce cost, as they have most successfully done for solar.
Let us also find the best compromise between reducing emissions, security of supply and affordability.
An overview of geoengineering options and recent developments is given in a book by Oliver Morton (one of the Guardian’s best science books of 2015).
We are actually already doing this: the cooling effect of human aerosol pollution is real, its magnitude much more uncertain than the warming due to the CO2 greenhouse effect, but our best estimate is that it currently cancels close to half of it (it is a much more short term effect though due to the much shorter atmospheric residence times of these aerosols compared to CO2).
Firstly, lower than expected demand for a commodity results in lower prices making a further reduction in demand more difficult. Coal producers have for a long time overestimated demand resulting in a decade of overinvestment. where abundant low cost shale gas has taken away market share from coal.
Resulting low coal prices led to increasing demand (be it not as high as initially expected) and an increase in the market share of coal in the global primary energy mix. Secondly, the benefits of CO2 emission reductions are global and long term; the associated costs are local and are incurred now.This is about not eating meat, not flying and driving substantially less. Out of many geoengineering options albedo enhancement by creating a sulphate aerosol in the stratosphere seems by far the most technically and financially feasible.The limited costs imply that it will be well within reach of many countries.In fact, we may well have to face the fact that the recent Paris agreements will only reach their objectives if citizens accept that this will involve a drastic change of lifestyle.Reducing CO2 emissions in electricity generation is relatively easy (up to a certain level at least, pending advances in energy storage). Electric vehicles will take off but for mass-scale usage we may well run into restrictions on the availability of certain commodities.But the Energiewende did result in a staggering demand growth for solar panels, greatly contributing to a reduction in cost (long term cost reduction for every doubling of solar capacity has been an impressive 19% vs. This is a real and substantial long term achievement.Unsubsidised utility scale solar and wind generation of electricity is now becoming cost-competitive under many conditions.Energy-intensive industries are migrating to low-cost energy countries. where a rapid increase in low-cost shale gas production has resulted in a long term reduction of electricity prices; a significant competitive advantage for any U. Global warming concerns people in undeveloped countries as well but when asked to rank issues it comes out last (way below security, food, education, health and energy and transport related issues).A significant and growing part of Saudi Arabia’s oil production is used for local industries (petrochemicals, metal processing), generating a second income stream in addition to oil production. In fact it comes out near the bottom of the list in most countries except for the most highly developed ones. In all likelihood the emission reductions needed to limit CO2 levels to those in line with the COP21 targets will not be met.Just aiming at reducing emissions, without any consideration of the ability of our industries to compete on a global basis, may result in a lack of public support for necessary measures (doing more harm than good in the long term).Many people in the oil and gas industry look at the Energiewende as a total failure, given that it did not make electricity generation in Germany any cleaner or more affordable (and did not make its supply any safer).