To act against climate change, it is necessary to change the energy model
Overall, the energy industry accounts for about 80% by volume of total worldwide emissions of CO₂, the main greenhouse gas.
Therefore, when individual countries make a commitment to reducing emissions, they must necessarily review their energy sources and consumption patterns. This is not always explicit.
It has been taken as given that development means more energy consumption and more emissions. However, we appear to be moving away from this paradigm. In 2014, the world economy expanded by 3% while greenhouse gas emissions remained stable. This shows that we now have the technology to enable economic growth to be compatible with a reduction in emissions. But this is not spontaneous. Energy policy must accept a number of restrictions.
In a report entitled Energy and Climate Change, the International Energy Agency suggests five measures that would help us transition towards a new energy model, with effective carbon reductions:
- Increase energy efficiency in industry, buildings and transport.
- Phase out older coal-fired power plants.
- Significantly increase investment in renewable energy.
- Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels.
- Reduce methane emissions from oil and gas extraction.
Obviously, it is necessary to consider the costs of each of these measures and analyse the necessary economic model. A significant part of the solution involves consolidating the incipient but progressive electrification of energy use. This must necessarily be accompanied by the development of non-emitting generating capacity.
At present, renewable energies are the clearest solution, but their widespread implementation will also require an adaptation of existing regulatory models, which are much more biased towards considering the variable costs of energy production and are ill-adapted to technologies that are capital-intensive at the time of construction. Regulatory models are also making the transition, though not always without a fight.
Guest post written by Carmen Becerril Martínez, External Director from ACCIONA, and Magdalena García Mora, Manager of Analysis of Energy policies and Climate Change from ACCIONA.