Global energy crisis brings climate to a crossroads

Read Time:6 Minute, 24 Second

The fight against the climate crisis ends here-the priority is the energy crisis. It cannot appear at a more critical moment.

In just three weeks, leaders and negotiators will hold COP26 international climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland. Before the crisis hit, the momentum for setting an end date for coal and accelerating the global transition from climate-changing fossil fuels to renewable energy was increasing.

But the eager return to fossil fuels has worried some experts that this shift may be slowed at this moment, especially in terms of phasing out coal, which is now closer than at any time in history.

“The concern about China’s power crunch is that it seems to be strengthening the argument there that supports the interests of coal, that the transition to renewable energy is happening too fast,” said Christine Hiller, director of the coal project at Global Energy Monitoring, the project Responsible for tracking the use of coal. Fossil fuels around the world.

With winter approaching, the global economy is rebounding from the Covid-19 pandemic faster than the world expected, and governments are being forced to seek ready-made energy. The existing infrastructure for the use of renewable energy such as wind and solar energy is simply not enough to meet demand.

Lisa Fischer, the project leader of E3G, a European climate think tank, said: “Many decision makers panic about the social reaction in some ways.”

She said that investing more money in fossil fuels is not a solution, and some short-term solutions contradict long-term sustainability goals.

A better response is to provide “turbocharge” funding for the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, including the initiation of infrastructure projects hindered by the pandemic.

This has led to the dichotomy of the crisis-the world will either “speed up” renewable energy efforts or slow down and rely more on fossil fuels, as is happening now.

Geopolitical chaos

In addition to the pandemic rebound, there are several reasons for the energy squeeze. Electricity from renewable sources has been lower than expected-in the UK and continental Europe, there is less wind than usual in summer, so wind power is insufficient. In China, reduced rainfall means less energy for hydroelectric power plants in the country.

Most importantly, Russia has been accused of slowing down the supply of natural gas to Europe to encourage speeding up the approval process for its Beixi 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Gazprom denied the allegation to CNN last month, but on Thursday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak made it clear that if Berlin certifies the project, natural gas prices will cool.
A global energy crisis is approaching.There is no quick solution

For months, the Chinese authorities have kept a large amount of coal imported from Australia at the terminal, refusing to show that Australia is willing to accept its exports because the two countries have remained indifferent to Canberra’s calls for an investigation of the origin of Covid-19. This will only exacerbate the power shortage in the country.

According to official media reports, Chinese officials told companies in the country’s industrial heartland last month to limit energy consumption to reduce demand for electricity. Due to reduced supplies, households in some provinces experienced power outages. But according to official media reports on Thursday, as the crisis intensified and global demand for Chinese goods soared, Beijing changed its strategy and required coal mining companies to increase production by 100 million metric tons.

China has already powered its economic returns through dozens of new coal-fired power plants, but the recent increase in production is a problem for COP26-China has just begun to show signs that it is ready to play a role in the end date of fossil fuels.

Just two weeks ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China would stop funding overseas coal projects, thereby eliminating the world’s largest financial supporter of fossil fuels internationally. However, since then, it has faced pressure to reduce coal consumption domestically.
China has stated that it plans to peak emissions sometime before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. But the frenzy of construction of coal-fired power plants and increased production makes this goal even more difficult to imagine.

Europe split

China is not alone. In the face of this crisis, European leaders signaled that it is difficult to get rid of fossil fuels.

Last month, the UK activated an old coal power plant to meet electricity demand. Some countries in the European Union are considering continuing to open coal and oil plants after the closing date to avoid similar power outages.

This is the first blow to the large increase in renewable energy power generation reported by Europe last year that surpassed that of fossil fuels. In 2020, 38% of electricity will be provided by renewable energy sources, compared with 37% of fossil fuels.

It has also caused a rift in the European Parliament, where the climate crossroads are clear. In the face of an emergency crisis, some leaders said that if there is no effective short-term action plan to deal with consumers’ swelling energy bills, the EU’s green agreement will lose support.

Europe’s natural gas crisis is also a renewable energy crisis, but there are ready-made solutions
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban is leading this camp, accusing the “Brussels bureaucracy” of continuously increasing the price of fossil fuel energy.

On the other hand, European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said that the green agreement will provide “the only lasting solution to the European energy challenge”, and more renewable energy and improved energy efficiency are the answer.

“We must declare that the current price increase has nothing to do with our climate policy, but has a lot to do with our dependence on imported fossil fuels and relative prices,” Simson said on Wednesday.

“In recent months, wind and solar have continued to produce the cheapest electricity in Europe. They have not been affected by price fluctuations.”

Has a ripple effect in the U.S.

In the United States, a crisis surrounding soaring gasoline prices is brewing, and this issue is related to broader energy issues. Some countries that have difficulty obtaining enough natural gas are turning to oil to fill the electricity supply gap.

In August, Biden petitioned OPEC+ (a group of major oil-producing countries and their allies) to increase global oil production after gasoline prices soared, because increased supply will lower oil prices.

Gasoline prices are at a 7-year high, and Biden can't do anything about it
It didn’t work-OPEC+ said on Monday that it will only gradually increase market supply. Either way, Biden’s call for more oil is inconsistent with his climate agenda, which includes pushing the country’s electric car market.
According to the International Energy Agency, in order to reach net zero emissions by 2050—greenhouse gas emissions do not exceed the amount removed from the atmosphere—the world must stop expanding fossil fuel production.
But some experts hope that leaders will choose a harder but more valuable path on COP26. Although the UK has resumed the use of coal in the short term, its Ministry of Commerce, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced on Thursday a plan to achieve a complete decarbonization of the power industry 15 years ahead of its original plan.

“Entering the climate conference, the background shows the extreme impact of relying on fossil fuels-in my opinion, I think this may be enough to prompt some countries to redouble their efforts on renewable energy,” said Charles Moore, director of the Ember Climate think tank Europe project.

“I think the United Kingdom is a good example. The United Kingdom has just come out and promised to completely decarbonize its power system by 2035,” he said.

“That’s what the organizer of the climate conference said.”

Angela Dewan of CNN contributed to this report.

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