What is Climate Change?

Well according to the United Nations (UN): “Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Photo credit: https://www.climatechangenews.com/2023/01/16/thunberg-joins-protest-against-german-coal-mine-expansion/

Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.

Examples of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from using gasoline for driving a car or coal for heating a building, for example. Clearing land and forests can also release carbon dioxide. Landfills for garbage are a major source of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use are among the main emitters.” – according to  https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/what-is-climate-change

However, one must understand that, all fossil fuels are not created equal. Let’s take a look at coal.

Coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. It is responsible for over 0.3C of the 1C increase in global average temperatures. This makes it the single largest source of global temperature rise – according to https://www.clientearth.org/latest/latest-updates/stories/fossil-fuels-and-climate-change-the-facts/#:~:text=Coal%20is%20a%20fossil%20fuel,the%20world’s%20total%20carbon%20emissions.

But in recent happenings, the German government agreed that utility RWE could expand the Luetzerath coal mine in exchange for a faster national coal phase-out.

Now given the track record of coal, this development hasn’t been welcomed by many as there have been protests already of which renown climate change activist, Greta Thunberg has been a part.

“This is a betrayal of present and future generations… Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world and needs to be held accountable,” Thunberg said on a podium, after she marched with a cardboard sign saying in German “Luetzi stays”, using a shortened name of the village.

The president of North Rhine-Westphalia Hendrik Wüst told German radio Deutschlandfunk on Saturday that energy politics was “not always pretty” but that the coal was needed more than ever in light of the energy crisis confronting Europe’s biggest economy.

Earlier, economy Minister Robert Habeck told Spiegel on Friday that Lutzerath was the “wrong symbol” to protest against.

“It is the last place where brown coal will be mined – not a symbol for more-of-the-same, but for the final frontier.”

But activists have said Germany should not be mining any more lignite and focus on expanding renewable energy instead.

Germany plans to stop using coal for electricity by 2030 and to become carbon-neutral by 2045, one of the earliest dates in the world.” – according to https://www.climatechangenews.com/2023/01/16/thunberg-joins-protest-against-german-coal-mine-expansion/

But can the world keep on burning fossil fuels?

“The IPCC warns that fossil fuel emissions must be halved within 11 years if global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

In 2015, the world’s governments signed up to the Paris Agreement committing to reduce carbon emissions. However, a recent report by the UN Environment Programme shows that globally, we are on track to produce more than double the amount of coal, oil and gas by 2030 than we can burn if we are to limit global warming by 1.5C. So, more needs to be done” – according to https://www.clientearth.org/latest/latest-updates/stories/fossil-fuels-and-climate-change-the-facts/#:~:text=Coal%20is%20a%20fossil%20fuel,the%20world’s%20total%20carbon%20emissions.

In light of this, UN Secretary General António Guterres has called for a renewable energy revolution for a brighter global future.

“Only renewables can safeguard our future, close the energy access gap, stabilize prices and ensure energy security,” he said in a video message to the 13th Session of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly, taking place this weekend in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“Together, let’s jump-start a renewables revolution and create a brighter future for all.”

The world is still addicted to fossil fuels and the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is fast slipping out of reach, the UN chief warned.

“Under current policies, we are headed for 2.8 degrees of global warming by the end of the century. The consequences will be devastating. Several parts of our planet will be uninhabitable. And for many, this is a death sentence,” he said.

Renewable energy sources currently account for about 30 per cent of global electricity.

Mr. Guterres said this must double to over 60 per cent by 2030, and 90 per cent by mid-century.” – according to https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/01/1132452

What is your take? Let’s get talking!