As global temperatures have been steadily rising and icecaps on the Poles have been melting, it has become inevitable to come to know the notion of climate change, which is by no question one of the biggest problems of our world today.
In the last two decades, we have seen horrible disasters, such as storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, and other devastating natural phenomena due to the rising of global temperatures, and it is very likely that such events will multiply in the future if the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere isn’t significantly reduced. In order to avoid the most dramatic consequences of global warming, it is essential that humanity makes all the necessary steps to try to stop, or at least slow down this otherwise irreversible process.
According to the IPCC (2007) the global greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities have increased by 70% between 1970 and 2004 (most of which comes from energy supply, transport, and industry), and most of the observed increase in globally-averaged temperatures is due to the increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations in the athmosphere. The most dangerous anthropogenic GHG is CO2 whose emissions have grown by 80% between 1970 and 2004, and this increase is primarily due to the use of fossil fuels, which we do mainly to produce energy.
At times like these, when we are running out of natural resources, when society is facing the biggest financial crisis yet, when our planet is completely exploited, and disastrous natural phenomena are happening every day, we have no choice but to completely change our current ways of producing energy and we need to find new ways to build up our economies and step on a truly sustainable pathway.
This is why Greenpeace has created the second edition of the Energy [R]evolution for Hungary. With this analysis we would like to show that it is indeed possible to build up a green and sustainable, yet secure future. The scenario takes a deep plunge into what’s possible in terms of energy supply strategies for the future and how to develop a sustainable energy and climate policy. We would like to show the solution and a possible way to strengthen our economies, create jobs, while ensuring energy security and keeping emissions under manageable levels.
Energy policy has a widespread impact on society, politics and the economy as a whole. Access to sufficient energy is vital to making our economies work but at the same time, our demand for energy has become the main source of the greenhouse gas emissions that put our climate at risk. Something needs to change.
At the same time, highly volatile fossil fuel prices are creating more and more uncertainty for the global economy, creating an indirect incentive for investing in renewable energy technologies, which are now booming.
Access to energy is of strategic importance for every country in the world. Over the past few years oil prices have gone up and down like a rollercoaster, jumping to a record high in July 2008 of US$147.27 and then falling back again to US$33.87 in December.
Security of energy supply is not only influenced by the cost of fuels, however, but by their long term physical availability. Renewable energy sources are not only the right choices because of the price stability they bring as opposed to fossil fuels but because they are indigenous and locally produced. Renewable energy technologies produce little or no greenhouse gases and rely on virtually inexhaustible natural elements for their ‘fuel’. Some of these technologies are already competitive. The wind power industry, for example, has continued its explosive growth in the face of a global recession and is a testament to the inherent attractiveness of renewable technology. In 2009, the global wind power market grew by an annual 41.5%. The renewable energy industry now employs around two million people worldwide and has become a major feature of national industrial development plans. In 2010, annual investments in renewable energy worldwide accounted for $207 billion.
Meanwhile, the economics of renewables are expected to further improve as they develop technically, and as the price of fossil fuels continues to rise and as their saving of carbon dioxide emissions is given a monetary value. These cost comparisons, already favorable to renewables, don’t even account for the massive externalized costs of fossil fuels such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite the small drop in fossil fuel emissions in the industrialized world as a result of the economic crisis, globally the level of energy related carbon dioxide continues to grow. This means that a recovered economy will result in increasing CO2 emissions once again, further contributing to the greenhouse gases which threaten our planet. A shift in energy policy is needed so that a growing economy and reduced CO2 emissions can go hand in hand. The Energy [R]evolution analysis shows how this is possible.
advanced energy [r]evolution for Hungary 2010
Greenpeace has published three global Energy [R]evolution scenarios since January 2007, each analysis deeper than the last. This is the second scenario specifically for Hungary, after publishing a detailed examination of how the grid network needs to be improved and adapted. The Energy [R]evolution not only includes the financial analysis and employment calculations in parallel with the basic projections, but we have also added a second, more ambitious Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario. This was considered vital because rapid improvements in climate science made it clear during 2009 that a global 50% reduction in energy related CO2 emissions by 2050 might not be enough to keep the global mean temperature rise below +2°C. An even greater reduction may be needed if runaway climate change is to be avoided.
The Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario has changed five parameters compared to the Basic version. These parameters are the following: the economic lifetime of coal power stations has been reduced from 40 to 20 years, the growth rate of renewables has taken the advanced projections of the renewable industry into account, the use of electric drives in the transport sector will take off ten years earlier, the expansion of smart grids will happen quicker, and last but not least, the expansion of fossil fuel based energy will stop after 2015. A drastic reduction in CO2 levels and a share of over 80% renewables in the world energy supply are both possible goals by 2050. Of course this will be a technical challenge, but the main obstacle is political. We need to kick start the Energy [R]evolution with long lasting reliable policy decisions within the next few years. It took more than a decade to make politicians aware of the climate crisis; we do not have another decade to agree on the changes needed in the energy sector. Greenpeace and the renewables industry present the Energy [R]evolution scenario as a practical but ambitious blueprint. For the sake of a sound environment, political stability and thriving economies, now is the time to commit to a truly secure and sustainable energy future – a future built on energy efficiency and renewable energy, economic development and the creation of millions of new jobs for the next generation.