in order to Omar Masera and Luca Ferrari
Earth Day aims to raise people’s awareness of the need to protect the ecosystems and creatures that live on the planet.
Among the various problems we face today, the “elephant in the room” is obviously the giant there, but no one wants to talk about it. This is undoubtedly climate change: it is the result of the energy, environmental and social crises we face.Face your life. In order to get out of the predicament, we must understand that we cannot continue the current civilization model based on excessive consumption, waste, inequality and violence, but just make it “green”. As Freire said, the real civilization bet is another way to “read the world”. Now, more than ever, we need other imaginary centers. Their centers are realized through necessary consumption, sufficiency, fairness, biological and cultural diversity, cooperation, self-management, and support for local and sustainable use of natural resources. The common interest or “good life”. The core of this new civilization model is to promote a sustainable energy transition not only in the environment but also in the society. How do we reach this critical point, and what is the way out?
The end of the fossil fuel era
In the last half century, we have experienced a unique experience in the history of civilization: the exponential growth of population and economy, and the various material products we consume. Until the end of the last century, this would have been impossible without the discovery and exploitation of large quantities of cheap fossil fuels, but the situation is changing.
Since the beginning of this century, we have been in the era of economically and environmentally expensive fossil energy. Smaller, deeper, and more difficult oil and gas fields are being developed. The quality of coal is low and its calorific value is low. The “grade” (that is, the concentration of mineral resources in the deposit) has gradually decreased.
At the international level, the possibility of continuing to adopt the current predatory development model is increasingly recognized, and its fundamental basis is the exponential increase in demand for goods and services, thereby over-utilizing the earth’s natural resources.. This model has been the main manifestation of neoliberalism and globalization for the past four decades. It is destroying the ecological foundation of life and causing undue wealth inequality.
In the face of energy decline and environmental destruction, their last hope that they want to sell to us is that they can continue to grow, but they are now developing in a “clean” and “environmentally friendly” way. This is the proposal of green capitalism. The main axis of green energy is to accelerate the implementation of renewable energy through large-scale projects of centralized production. However, although mankind will have to rely on renewable resources for a living again, the idea of using renewable energy to maintain or even develop a fossil capitalist energy system is an illusion..
We must be aware of the challenges and limitations of renewable energy. Despite the rapid technological advancement, CAny energy needs to be extracted, processed and disposed of for final use technology, So there is no completely clean font. In addition,Those energy sources with the greatest growth potential, such as wind and solar, are thin and changeable. Replacing electricity infrastructure based on fossil fuels with them will require construction of five times the current installed capacity and will occupy up to fifty times the surface area. It should also be noted that storage options are still in their infancy, and despite improvements, they have significantly increased costs. The non-electric use of energy used for power generation and transportation, which currently accounts for 80% of the country’s consumption, has yet to be resolved. In addition, recent studies have shown that there are not enough key mineral reserves to meet the electrification requirements of land transportation based on private vehicles, and there are no other viable options for air and sea transportation. Finally, we must bear in mind that the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure required to use renewable resources depends on fossil fuels and non-renewable raw materials, such as lithium and rare earths or diesel used in mining.
In short, only renewable energy, that is, without attacking the reduction in back-end energy demand, cannot solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.. Facts have proved that despite the rapid development of renewable energy, these emissions have not been reduced except during the economic downturn..
Truly sustainable transition
In order to achieve energy sovereignty and justice and reduce serious environmental impacts such as climate change, we must take action on energy demand and supply.
On the supply side, it is clear that renewable energy is the energy of the future. However, they must be developed in diversified ways to adapt to different social environments and implemented through small and medium-sized projects carried out with local residents. Establishing local cooperatives of distributed energy “producers” is an important way for the future.
However, in terms of climate, even the most optimistic international transition scenario (which is sustainable from a climate perspective) means that energy consumption will be greatly reduced. Therefore, before considering generating more energy, we must use the existing energy in the most effective way. Currently, more than 70% of the energy we produce is wasted. This means improving efficiency, especially reducing excess consumption. This problem is difficult to solve politically, because the idea that material growth is synonymous with happiness is rooted in the Western collective imagination, despite the fact that even in the past 40 years, with economic growth, the vast majority of the population has seen him His quality of life is gradually deteriorating, and he needs to work longer and longer to survive.
In Mexico, a truly sustainable transition must address energy, environmental and social issues. Redistributing resources to sustainable development means rethinking priorities, adapting the economy to internal needs, and betting on a new “imaginary” or civilized project based on the coordination between the local economy and collective projects.
In order to understand the opinions of domestic and foreign experts on this issue, we invite you to participate in the “Justice and Sustainable Energy Transition” seminar organized by the Conacyt National Strategic Energy and Climate Change Program. The first seminar will be broadcast on Conacyt México’s YouTube and Facebook Live accounts from 12:00 to 14:00 on April 27. We are waiting for you!
Omar Masera and Luca Ferrari They are part of Conacyt’s national strategic energy and climate change plan.