Picture Credit - Jonas Von Werne
Global warming is a pressing issue that has grappled world leaders since 1988 when Dr. James Hansen testified before the United States Senate. His statement about human emissions directly contributing to the rise in global temperatures made headline news and sparked international concern. Four years after his testament, 165 nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC) and the UN held annual meetings for world leaders to discuss their progress in reducing emissions in a summit called Conference of the Parties (COP).
On the 13th of November 2021, the UN wrapped up the 26th COP meeting where world leaders boasted about their progress and made more promises about cutting down emissions by set deadlines. Yet the average world temperature continues to rise, and we are on the fast track to surpassing the 1.5° C limit.
Throughout this 30-year time frame, scientists and engineers have invented exceptional technologies to combat climate change and reduce global emissions. We have created wind turbines, solar panels, tidal energy and even technology which can capture carbon right out of the atmosphere. There was never an issue with human ingenuity, but the problem lies with scaling up these technologies to a point where they can make a difference.
Scaling up new technology can be tremendously difficult to implement, but it is extremely important to commercialise clean energy as it is the only way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. There are a couple of tactics that governments can conscript to supercharge the rate at which these technologies are being implemented.
Picture Credit: Andreas Gucklhorn
Taxes and Subsidies – Giving subsidies to companies who develop clean energy will give them an edge and an incentive to continue developing clean energy for commercial use. Simultaneously, governments can enforce taxes on companies that emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to demotivate any further expansion in that sector. This will help scale up the demand for green tech.
Implementing Regulation – Introducing harsher laws on emitting greenhouse gases is a much more direct way to force companies to reduce their carbon footprint. Governments and world leaders must step up their effort when it comes to passing strict regulations, even if it means losing funding from multimillion dollar companies which profit from selling highly polluting products.
Optimising the opportunity – To commercialise green tech, it needs to yield promising results for it to gain further investment, and to maximise the efficiency of this technology it needs to be upscaled in the correct geographical locations.
For example, since Japan has limited land to construct large scale solar or wind farms, it’s better to focus on upscaling an alternative green technology such as tidal power in Japan instead.
Understanding the costs – It is extremely important to understand the true costs of an investment. When deciding upon building a natural gas power plant or a wind farm, an in-depth analysis of the decision must be done to find the overall costs of the project. For example, a study found that coal power plants cost the United States an additional $500 billion in health, economic and environmental impacts.
Understanding the true costs of fossil fuel-based energy sources can help the alternative (green tech) scale up.
These are just a few ways governments can scale up the demand for green technology, but it’s up to world leaders to turn the tide against global warming and tackle the issue of scale once and for all.
November 16th 2021 | 7:30 PM