Economic opportunities arising from the green transition and the rush to move away from Russian gas to increase energy security and reduce costs may help three of the world’s four largest emitters of CO2 into the atmosphere-China, the European Union and India (the fourth being the United States)-in trajectory to reduce their emissions. Even beyond the estimates set in their official targets. That is explained in a new study by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (Eciu) in London.
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More renewables and electric cars in China
The study, presented during the work of Cop27 in Egypt, reveals that China will have installed 165 gigawatts of new renewable power by the end of this year, 25 percent more than last year. In addition, sales of electric cars in the Asian nation will double from 2021 to 6 million new vehicles.
In total, the Chinese government has installed more than 260 Gigawatts (Global Energy Monitor data) of generation capacity from wind power, more than twice the size of the United States of America and more than a quarter of the world’s total. In 2021, it also installed 26 Gigawatts of offshore wind capacity-more than has been installed globally in the past five years.
An encouraging sign, counting that China alone generates between a third and a quarter of global emissions. And the United States, by 2022, will be second only to Beijing in installing new solar panels: estimates predict that by 2030 renewables will generate 85 percent of the country’s electricity, and electric cars will account for half of all new cars sold.
The surprise comes from India
But the surprises, reading the report, come from India: in this decade, the third-largest emitter will consistently develop the renewables sector, particularly solar, while there will be a decline in coal, not so much because of political issues but because it will no longer be economically viable. According to Eciu, the spread of electric cars will help enable India to achieve its 2070 net zero emissions target.
And while we are witnessing the European Union’s announcement that it is about to increase its 2030 emissions cut commitment from 55 percent to 57 percent, again India has tried (in vain) to have the Sharm el-Sheik final declaration include a call for a phase-down from all fossil sources. Not only from coal, then, but also from oil and gas.
The good news is there but beware of triumphalist overtones. China’s Ndc (Nationally Determined Contribution) envisions a gradual decarbonization of its economy, by at least 65 percent, by 2030 from 2005 levels. With the achievement of so-called net zero ( the zeroing of net CO2 emissions) by no later than 2060. But despite the announced efforts, according to Climate Action Tracker’s analysis, these goals do not appear to be in line with that of curbing global warming at the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold. On the contrary, at this rate global temperature rise could still reach 3-4 degrees.
The same is true for India: despite declining emissions, coal-fired power plants are still operating and the government is building new ones. The U.S. has also made progress, but it is below sufficient: under Joe Biden’s presidency, the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Agreement. And they have relaunched a more ambitious NDC than before. With a projected 50-52% reduction in emissions by 2030. A significant leap forward, but still not in fact in line with the global climate goal. To reach it, the United States must aim for a 57-63% cut in emissions in order to stay within 1.5 degrees.
What about the European Union? The old continent could be heading in the right direction, even considering the ongoing energy crisis. It was just a few days ago that the European Commission intends to declare any renewable energy project “in the public interest.” And thus streamline the permits that are slowing down the energy transition. Yet still too many member states-including Italy-are focusing on new gas extraction and production projects.
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First published in valori, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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