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Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
This is a good question for those of us who have been aware of the problem since the 1980's!
In fact, the Paris Agreement only gets us about halfway globally to the carbon reductions we need to avert catastrophic warming of the planet, of two degrees Celsius or more, 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit or more. So that’s the direct effect. The indirect effect of course is that it sends the wrong message to other major players, in particular, China and India. China is the largest emitter of carbon pollution today. And by signaling a pullout from the Paris Accord, it takes off the pressure, it takes the pressure off of China to meet its commitments. And in fact, before Trump entered the picture, China was going beyond their commitments. They were actually decommissioning coal fired power plants and carbon emissions globally had leveled off, the first step in actually bringing them down, which is what we need to do.
The Green New Deal promises everything. Its advocates anticipate a green industrial revolution led by workers, forging a power-grid run on renewables, a new and luxurious electrified transport system and affordable homes retrofitted for energy-efficiency.
We will see employment for all, workers on shorter hours enjoying high-paid green jobs and a democratised workplace. Equally as important, the UK will enact this great renewable transition without perpetuating colonial resource extraction abroad. It all sounds too good to be true. That’s because it is.
Industrial-scale renewable energy does nothing to remake exploitative relationships with the earth, and instead represents the renewal and expansion of the present capitalist order. We have inherited the bad/good energy dichotomy of fossil fuels versus renewable energy, a holdover from the environmental movement of the 1970’s that is misleading, if not false.
By 2050, up to six million tons of solar panel waste will need recycling, and the United States is expected to have the second largest amount of waste after China, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. But few states have started processes for handling the waste even as they require more energy produced by renewable sources.
Heavy industry is responsible for around 22 percent of global CO2 emissions. Forty-two percent of that — about 10 percent of global emissions — comes from combustion to produce large amounts of high-temperature heat for industrial products like cement, steel, and petrochemicals.
To put that in perspective, industrial heat’s 10 percent is greater than the CO2 emissions of all the world’s cars (6 percent) and planes (2 percent) combined. Yet, consider how much you hear about electric vehicles. Consider how much you hear about flying shame. Now consider how much you hear about ... industrial heat.
Not much, I’m guessing. But the fact is, today, virtually all of that combustion is fossil-fueled, and there are very few viable low-carbon alternatives. For all kinds of reasons, industrial heat is going to be one of the toughest nuts to crack, carbon-wise. And we haven’t even gotten started.