PublicationMiscellaneous Over the hump: Have we really reached the peak of carbon emissions?

September 8, 2020
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Recent news reports have focused on the so-​​called col­lapse of coal, which indeed is in free-​​fall in many nations. And it’s not lim­ited to the news media; an Inter­na­tional Energy Agency report said “… Only renew­ables are hold­ing up dur­ing the pre­vi­ously unheard-​​of slump in elec­tric­ity use.” Coal use is down to record low-​​levels in the United States. This decrease is also under­way for oil and nat­ural gas. Mean­while, new solar and wind projects are up 4 per­cent since the start of the year, and the most afford­able projects world­wide over the past three years have all been renew­able energy instal­la­tions. These cost trends, and the slow-​​down in demand for fossil-​​fuels that came with the COVID-​​19-​​induced reces­sion tipped the bal­ance in favor of clean, renew­able energy – at least tem­porar­ily. But from here on in, much depends on what we do next: How will we respond to this acci­den­tal and costly emer­gency? Will we double-​​down on pol­lu­tion and the racial injus­tices that are inher­ent with the use of fos­sil fuels? Or will we use this hia­tus to craft a new, green, and job-​​creating economy?

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