Over the following weeks we’ll be covering various propositions commonly deemed by the lobby of the fossil fuel industry and their allies as ‘solutions’ to the climate crisis. As stand-ins to ending fossil fuels, ideas like carbon capture and storage (CSS), ‘net zero’ emissions, bioenergy, nuclear energy, ‘natural’ gas, geo-engineering, and others, range from insufficient, to misleading, to problematic, to dangerous in the context of addressing climate change.
Often supported by fossil fuel companies and governments who rely on them, these ideas risk postponing the meaningful action that is demanded of our leaders, decision makers and other key players in society, awarding a free pass to companies and institutions who would prefer to see their profits skyrocket, even if it means disaster for the world’s most vulnerable communities. Promotion of these concepts, too often, emboldens those whose profits rely on the continuation of ‘business as usual’.
What we know is this: climate change is already happening, but in order to limit global heating to within 1.5 degrees, and mitigate the worst impacts of the crisis, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to significantly reduce emissions within the next decade in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
Our aim, ultimately, has to be to cut out greenhouse gas emissions altogether: offsetting them, taxing them, or capturing and storing them, may form part of the picture. But these are by no means sufficient courses of action.
Similarly, while we all have our own part to play in reducing our own carbon footprint and changing unsustainable habits, shifting the ultimate onus of responsibility onto the individual rather than energy corporations, financial institutions and governments, is to allow climate culprits to continue wreaking havoc on our climate.
We need smart, progressive policy from governments, combined with large-scale public investment, particularly from rich countries, to accelerate this transition. We need an immediate moratorium on all new fossil fuel extraction and production. We need financial institutions to stop funding fossil companies who are making record profits as the world burns.
We need rich nations from the North to pay their fair share in aiding developing countries and ultimately fund the global energy transition.We need financing for clean energy and loss and damage, especially for countries in the Global South, where communities who are the least to blame for the crisis are already suffering the worst impacts.
We need to stop entertaining false solutions and permanently transform our energy systems away from centralized, corporate-controlled fossil fuels and other harmful technologies, and towards clean, community-owned power systems that would empower communities, increase accessibility, create jobs, and be kind to the planet.