A world without fossil fuels
Carbon dioxide emissions must be zero by 2070 to prevent climate disaster according to the United Nations and the body of climate change scientists advising governments. It’s a really hard concept to even begin to get your head around, a world without fossil fuels. They underpin pretty much everything we do, and everything we depend on for living.
Our lifestyles, our very existence here on Earth is dependent on fossil fuels right now. 2070 is not very far away, although it might seem like it. Many of us will still be alive then, and children born today will be a decade off retiring.
So is a low carbon world possible? This question is really easy to answer, as it already exists. You don’t have to look too hard to see the world unfolding right in front of our eyes. The more we invest our time, money, thinking, visioning into it, the quicker it will happen.
Pause for a moment to read these snapshots of inspiration… we are closer than you might think…
In 2014 there were days in the summer when Germany generated 75% of its power from the wind and sun. Here in the UK on one particularly windy day UK wind farms generated more power than nuclear power stations, 14.2% of all generation. To put things in perspective it would take an area of just 254 kilometers squared filled with solar panels to power the entire world.
Low carbon technologies are being developed all the time. An Australian solar thermal plant has produced the hottest and most pressurised steam EVER using solar power – and it’s powerful enough to replace fossil fuels and drive the power plants of the future. One company has created an electric bus powered by the road!
Our leaders are speaking out about climate change like never before. Pope Francis in the catholic church has the possibility of influencing over 1.2 billion people and has spoken out about the need to change. China and the US have made pledges for the first time which will lead to a boom in renewable energy, electric cars and more energy efficient homes if the two countries make good on their promises. The Church of England has challenged BP and Shell, two of the world’s biggest oil companies, to take responsibility for their carbon footprints and limit their contribution to global warming
Yes, it all comes down to economics and that is looking bright too. After years of struggling against cheap natural gas prices and variable subsidies, solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 U.S. states. The Bank of England is investigating the risk of the ‘carbon bubble’ and is carrying out an enquiry to assess chances of an economic crash if climate change rules render coal, oil and gas assets worthless.
EON is to quit gas and coal and focus on reneweable energy. The German utility firm is to sell off most power generating units amid ‘dramatically altered global energy markets’. Heirs to the Rockerfeller family, which made its vast fortune from oil are to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy, joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than £31 billion in fossil fuel assets.
Looking at our own choices
These are all really positive signs, but this is absolutely not the time for complacency. We could equally list a whole raft of worrying policies being passed by our government and governments worldwide going against cutting carbon emissions such as subsidies given to fossil fuel companies, legislation passed to encourage and make it easier to extract fossil fuels and build roads.
It seems that our whole media and advertising industry is hell bent on encouraging us to aspire to living more and more carbon intensive lifestyles. A little closer to home, we need to seriously look at the decisions we make in our own lives and how we can continue our own low carbon journey.
We need to move beyond LED lights and insulation to those more challenging decisions such as how we travel and where we choose to go on holiday. As well as what investments we are going to make to our homes to change the way we use energy and the type of energy we use. What we eat, how we shop, where we shop – these are all aspects of our lives we need to look at carefully, understand the impact, and make changes if we are going to move to a low carbon world. A great way to start is to work out what your own carbon footprint is. There are many free online calculators, for starters try this one which is quick and easy to use.
We need to start talking about this with our friends and family. Due to its challenging nature climate change is not spoken of within our social groups, or if it is it’s not spoken about enough, given the severity of the issue. By speaking about it we normalize it, and help educate and inspire each other to take action.
We also need to talk to our leaders, and let them know how we feel. Our MPs are elected by us to represent our interests, and we are all interested in self preservation and preserving our world for the next generation. At current levels of action, our world will be a very very difficult place to live in in just one generations time.
For more information on what you can do visit the following pages:
“Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our future as humanity on this planet” Nelson Mandela
A Tale of Two Wolves
The choice as to whether we move to a low carbon sustainable world is ours. The choice we have is described well in The Tale of Two Wolves.
One evening, an elderly cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.
One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorry, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?…”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one that you feed”.
It is our choice which future we feed. It is in our power to shape our future. We just need to choose what kind of future we want to live in and start living it now. Be the future.