This final part of the year is always an opportunity for making a balance.
In my opinion the balance is clearly negative as we are still sending not only too much CO2 to the atmosphere, we are sending more than ever. And this is the important part, because any possible improvement will not be effective until it gets a real effect on emissions.
The annual meeting in Doha, COP18, were not a significant step forward, and in spite of alleviating Obama’s victory and strong commitments in renewable energy as in Germany, the global emission path is still upwards with the driving force of emerging economic powers, mainly China.
In the other hand renewables are growing in many places and electric cars are not just in the labs.
I do not think the skeptics are winning the concept battle, I think there is more and more people convinced about climate change in most places of the world, the problem is that much more action is needed and fast. Maybe the two main topics this year have been the record low ice surface in the Artic and extreme weather events as Sandy hurricane, just in time to show american skeptics what is coming next. They are important because one is very visual (my cousin, not involved in those issues, told me se was impressed by the ice surface record), and the other very important for our everyday life.
I have not written about those two subjects for lack of time, as with many other posts I have in the waiting list, so my personal balance is that I have not written about many interesting issues I should but at the same time I am happy for writing more than previous two years, arriving to 100 posts, and above all, I have learnt a lot and I still want to write posts about climate change although I doubt about the approach or style.
So, happy new year and let’s hope we, the world, will go a step forward in 2013. Because we can and we must.
Bangladesh location in the earth from Wikipedia
The installation of solar panels to electrify 1 million houses in Bangladesh is in my opinion great news, not just for the KWh produced for those people by clean means reducing some CO2 tons.
It also means that for poor people off-grid solar energy makes more sense than whole big investment in new grid systems fed by fossil fuels with uncertain costs in the future.
Al also means that the technology developed in rich countries (and not so rich ones) after a fossil fuel based 200 year industrialisation maybe effectively used to start using low-carbon electricity in places that have not known it before.
Symbolically means that it is possible to start improving every day life conditions based on solar energy of small-scale without going the fossil way from the beginning, becoming rich and after that reducing emissions.
And finally, it means that for many people living with almost nothing in many places, they can dream of improving their living standards without spoiling the climate of their grandchildren.
Chevrolet Volt Image from Wikipedia
A recent article in a general media mentioned the virtues of Chevrolet Volt, Open Ampera in the european version. Its numbers are astonishing as combines the comfort and autonomy of a Hybird car (or a fuel driven one) with the big batteries of many electric ones. The result can be a very low fuel expense of 1-2 lt per 100 Km. And the amazing thing, at least for me, is that it is not just a car in the exhibitions, it is in the streets and anyone can buy it, if you can afford to. It is more real than I expected.
No doubt, this is another step forward, as it was my beloved Prius. Regrettably it is still too expensive, (twice the standard Prius), still far from the possibilities of most. I hope it will be getting more and more affordable, our future and a third part of global CO2 emissions depend on transportation. So we need several kind of approaches to improve in this area and we need them fast.
COP18 talks in Doha are over and once again the results are at least unclear. Most blogs offer more rigorous analyses but they agree in the poorness of the result. Climate Progress is critical with the result, as InsideClimateNews the NYtimes is only slightly more optimistic and the skeptics are celebrating the result, so they coincide in the analysis.
Kioto protocol has been prolonged but only involving countries accounting 15% of the CO2 emissions, there are some other promising results but not very clear. So, once again, everybody agrees about the magnitude of the problem (otherwise they would not meet every year) but few countries want to be legally bounded to a worldwide treaty. This approach is not working for the moment, however, it is not the only way.
Not being legally bounded does not mean that many countries are not going to act in some way and there are many other possible agents that can get significant results as subcountry entities (California is far more advanced that the USA for example), Cities-Towns, activist groups, Households and finally families and individuals. Nevertheless, a clear international agreement would be the definitive push for every other action for this uniquely global problem, next year we will see again.
Qatar Coat of Arms, source: Wikipedia
COP18 conference held in Qatar has produced at least a first beneficial output. The government has announced an important investment to produce 1800 MW by solar power out of a total electricity capacity of 7000 MW. Even better, they will encourage particulars to produce electricity at home by small solar panels with a feed-in-tarif.
As they explained, the official reason to such a political impulse in one of the mayor producers of liquefied gas is the reduction of cost and the abundance of sun in their home. Good reasons, I suppose that holding the COP18 being the biggest emitter (mentioned in many blogs) is another one.
I hope it will become true, because we need the commitment of everyone in this big challenge of climate change, and the competitions to avoid last places in this shameful classification could help.