The climate change conversation is as emotive as it is crucial. Although many countries are having this conversation in earnest, these efforts are often muddied by politics and capitalism. The main challenge that faces climate change efforts is the direct impact it has on industries. If countries must reduce carbon emissions, as the belief goes, they must cut down industrial activity. However, this is far from the truth.
The idea that industries must emit carbon to operate at full capacity is a relic of the industrial age. Today, renewable energy and carbon capture technologies offer a significant option to industries to reduce carbon emissions. In this article, Jacob Gitman, a prominent scientist and a prolific entrepreneur based in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, USA, unpacks the need to pursue renewable energy solutions aggressively to slow down and reverse climate change.
Capitalism vs. Climate Change
Is slowing down and reversing climate change bad for business? Countries and companies around the world grapple with this question. According to Jacob Gitman, this widely held belief is far from the truth. According to the World Economic Forum, over a trillion dollars have been invested in renewable energy over the last three years. Countries that have made substantial investments in renewable energy like China and Germany have seen significant drops in their energy costs over this period.
Similarly, investments in renewable energy are spinning off more jobs and auxiliary industries than fossil fuels. The reason is simple – fossil fuel energy is highly mechanized, relying on a small workforce. Renewable energy, on the other hand, is labor-intensive, hiring thousands in downstream industries like installation and maintenance. From these two points, capitalism and climate change do not have to be at odds but instead can support each other to create a better world.
Electric vehicles or EVs are another area where climate change and global economic dynamics clash. Does the world need to pivot to EVs to slow down and reverse climate change? The short answer is yes. Currently, one billion cars across the planet pump over 5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. That is close to 160 metric tons every second. In contrast, there are only 3 million EVs in the world today.
As you can see, a simple reduction in the number of fossil-fuel cars on the road can lead to a significant drop in carbon emissions. This picture reinforces the need for renewable energy to salvage the current climate change challenge. However, for this to materialize, says Jacob Gitman, individuals must take the responsibility to trade in their fossil fuel cars for EVs.
Cities and National Grids
Cities are massive consumers of fossil fuel energy. Most grids get power from coal-fired power plants, while others run on diesel generators. The current challenge cities face, says Jacob Gitman, is how to transition from these legacy systems that are so entrenched to new ones that can support the dynamics of renewable energy. Chief among the issues is the reliability of renewable energy and storage systems for when renewable sources stall (no sun, low wind, etc.).
While these are legitimate reasons, you must recall that cities have made energy transitions in the past too. In the 1800s, whale oil was an important energy source for cities. Today, such a concept would be laughable. Is it possible that in the next century, the idea of burning fossil fuels to generate energy will also be laughable? Cities must play their part in climate change reversal by being willing to embrace change as the world moves on from fossil fuels.
In summary, renewable energy is the key to slowing and reversing climate change. Although the discussion around renewables can often be difficult, it behooves any person, whether business owner, politician, industry leader, or private person, to take steps to embrace renewables for the sake of a better planet tomorrow.