Another record, a warmer year, we’ve become numb to the alarms. As the world enters the implementation phase of the Paris Agreement, last week, the Shell CEO warned that a renewable shift too quick would compromise the dividends and spell end of company. As if the weight of my body, your body and every living organism’s body wasn’t enough to outbalance the profits. As if the stakes of risking our very own existence weren’t high enough. On who’s watch quickly enough will be accounted?
While plants convert sun light beams into life energy, we burn. Placing fossil fuels at the core of our development has allowed the fossil fuel industry to feel entitled of decision power over our future. There are 7.5 billion reasons why we should quit the use of coal, oil and gas. Here are only 7 reasons why fossil fuel industries should break their carbon bubble:
Powerful mass mobilizations have escalated proving that we are ready to stop fossil fuel on their tracks. The social movement was shown at full swing with 30,000 voices from every corner of the world, raising. We struggle collectively and in our aim to survive we unlock our power as we stand together. The will to fight for climate action will burst that carbon bubble for you.
Scientists have warned that in order to stay within the 2°C limit we need to suppress our carbon budget to 565GT. In our oil, coal and gas reserves we have five times that amount. This means than if we stopped today the drill and discovery for new wells we would still need to abstain from burning the crude in the existing reserves. Although the Paris agreement doesn’t mention fossil fuels once in the text, it sent a clear signal that nations all over the world pledged to end the fossil fuel era. Investors have taken the hint. Bill Gates divested completely, his $825m worth of shares, from ExxonMobil. In it’s place, he created the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which is the largest multibillion-dollar clean energy fund. Smarty pants. Between 2014 and 2015, New York City’s biggest pension fund lost $135m because of fossil fuel holdings. Additionally, energy was by far the worst performing sector in the market for 2015. Rockefeller divested from fossil fuel and has been found to still be outperforming their benchmarks. Seems like investing in resources you can’t exploit wouldn’t be the best idea. Hopefully the industry will soon start to let go too.
Its getting messy and really fast. Only in the 2016, corrupt regulatory oversight and greed have provoked 82,500 gallons to be spilled in the Gulf of Mexico; 94,500 gallons in Peru; 21,000 gallons in rural Northern California; oil containing trains have derailed and caught on fire over the Columbia Rive Gorge. All adds up to around 200,000 gallons, through May, leaked over our oceans, ecosystem barriers and food. How many hydrophobic drops are left behind?
The winds are changing; the prices of renewables have not only allowed them to compete with fossil fuel but also to be cheaper in some cases. In US, wind power price dropped last year to $0.025/kWh, well below the national average of 0.11/kWh (2014). Large-scale photovoltaic installations power prices have fallen as much as 80% from $0.49/kWh in 2005 to $0.10/kWh in 2014. Power purchase agreements and other projects in Uruguay, Dubai and Brazil are set to producing solar energy for lower than $0.08/kWh. We have also set other set of records, in 2015 global investment in renewables increased by 5%. The $286billion mark is more than six times the investments amount on 2004 and more than two times the global investment in fossil fuel for last year.
Last year, 55% of the global investment in renewables came from developing countries. For the first time, developing countries –leaded by China- invested more than developed countries in these technologies. Developed countries are making a swift switch too. Recently Germany, hit a milestone of supplying so much renewable energy the prices went negative for a few hours. So was the case for Chile too but in this case it lasted longer. With several gigawatts still to be added in different projects, certain regions spot prices have been zero for a total 113 days. The year hasn’t ended yet and everything points to beating last year 192 days of free energy for certain parts of the country. Portugal reached a zero emission landmark for four consecutive days.
Every molecule of CO2 that we put in the atmosphere will last a few centuries plus 25% that last there, virtually, forever. It’s a thermodynamic problem, the Earth will keep warming whether or not our collective social awareness is ready or not. The chair of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), R. K. Pachauri, stated that to have a “good chance of staying below 2C at manageable cost, our emissions should drop by 20 to 70 % globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100. We have that opportunity and the choice is in our hands”. The current INDC are inadequate to keep us within the agreed maximum limit. It is our responsibility to engage in the process to guarantee the national pledges ramp up their ambition in a way that unravels a livable future.
Post-Fossil Fuel era has made a strong and magnificent entrance. The monumental signal of serious and determined change was expressed in Paris by governments and civic society alike. Can we bend the emissions’ curve fast enough, on society’s watch? We are the generation that's is crazy enough to think we can change the world. We will stand and fight, and courage is contagious.
It will take everything we got, but what else can we do when we have everything to lose. We are fighting to remove those milestones and convert them in common place. Why do we underestimate ourselves? If some countries are winning the war for sustainability, everyone else can. Let’s break up with this abusive relationship with dirty fuels. All we have to say to fossil fuel industry is that we have all been there, holding too long for someone that is not good for us. This is not necessarily a bad thing, is an opportunity to break free and become relevant again.