We are hearing news that gives us reason to be optimistic. Several projects have been launched in recent months aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions. Whether it is through measures for decarbonising the economy, boosting renewable energy or promoting electric transport, we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel of the energy transition.
If implemented internationally, these actions could trigger a series of changes needed to curb global warming, reduce natural disasters and honour the Paris Agreement.
Major emissions reductions and decarbonisation of the economy
One of the most important developments was in September last year, when the President of China, Xi Jinping, announced at the UN General Assembly that his country was aiming to become carbon neutral by 2060. The world's most polluting nation, responsible for around 28 % of global emissions, China has committed unconditionally to cutting its emissions.
This follows the example of countries like the United Kingdom, which in 2019 made a legal commitment to reach net zero emissions. The European Union has done the same, having introduced at the end of that same year the EU Green Deal, a roadmap with 50 specific action measures and a lofty end goal: for Europe to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The United States has made similar promises. Following on from the re-signing of the Paris Agreement, Joe Biden has announced that he will direct investment towards green projects and tighten regulations to drive decarbonisation. Domestic companies must bear the cost of their carbon pollution. Carbon border taxes will also be introduced for goods imported from countries that do not meet their climate and environmental obligations.
The drive for renewable energies
Renewable energies will be indispensable if the world is to transition towards low-carbon societies. The cost associated with them is, without doubt, one of the main motivating factors for civil society, companies and institutions to make the energy transition.
Fortunately, there is even more good news! According to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), now is the best time for renewable energies. Their cost is falling, generation facilities are spreading around the world and their technological progress is accelerating.
All these factors, together with sustained policy support, will continue to drive strong growth in renewable energies. As such, according to the International Energy Agency, the total capacity of wind and photovoltaic solar energy is on track to surpass that of natural gas by 2023 and coal by 2024.
The transport sector is currently almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels, contributing one quarter of all CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
However, our ways of getting around are also changing. The commitment made to electric transport by countries like Norway, which wants to become the first country to stop selling combustion cars by 2025, opens the door to a real change in the transport sector.
It's certainly on the right track — last year, Norway saw more electric cars sold than combustion cars. According to data from the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV), the market share of fully electric vehicles reached 54 % in 2020.
There is still unquestionably much to be done in the fight against climate change, but these developments should encourage us to believe that a better and more sustainable planet is possible.