A major energy think tank in the UK says that the world’s reliance on fossil fuels could be phased out in just one decade. In fact, Professor Benjamin Sovacool, the Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, says that this next great energy revolution could resolve our energy crisis in only a fraction of the time of other major changes have happened in in the past.
By using a multi-scholar, collaborative, interdisciplinary effort, our world could break free from the chains of fossil fuels in a mere ten years, a peer-reviewed paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Research & Social Science, asserts. Prof. Sovacool analyzed energy transitions throughout our history and believes that we can learn from past mistakes. Current rhetoric and much of the current research says that to phase out fossil fuels will be arduous and will require incremental steps towards the end goal, but Sovacool says that this bleak picture of energy revolution paints the wrong picture.
Sure, it took Europe upwards of 160 years to move from wood to coal and almost seven decades to move on to electricity, but the urgency of the threat of climate change could greatly accelerate a global shift to energy that is not dependent on fossil fuels.
The argument was spotlighted during a Democratic debate this week between Mrs. Clinton and Senator Sanders. Clinton said that her goal was to move to clean energy, but that the process takes time.
“So I have big, bold goals, but I know in order to get from where we are, where the world is still burning way too much coal, where the world is still too intimidated by countries and providers like Russia, we have got to make a very firm but decisive move in the direction of clean energy,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Senator Sanders stressed that we are in the middle of a crisis, and we can make the switch away from fossil fuels like coal if we decide to treat it like a national threat, the way we did the Nazi world invasion during WWII.
“All right, here is — here is a real difference. This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough,” Sanders said during the debate adding that if we took on fossil fuel dependence “as if we were literally at a war,” we could make the transition quickly.
“You know, in 1941, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we moved within three years, within three more years to rebuild our economy to defeat Nazism and Japanese imperialism. That is exactly the kind of approach we need right now.”
Sanders: “We are on a suicide course…fossil fuels are destroying our climate” pic.twitter.com/mIO9zKVfwQ
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) April 15, 2016
The recently published article highlights numerous examples of speedy transitions that are not usually noted by analysts. For example, in just three years, two-thirds of the population in Indonesia moved from kerosene stoves to LPG stoves. According to the new paper, consumer behavior driven by incentives and a collaborative effort from governmental agencies has been a proven effective strategy in quickly transitioning a populace from an old energy source to a newer one.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) April 14, 2016
Wind and solar efforts are already outpacing fossil fuels globally.
Wind and solar are crushing fossil fuels https://t.co/27wimcNUCP pic.twitter.com/xhVcZl5Ezl
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) April 11, 2016
“The mainstream view of energy transitions as long, protracted affairs, often taking decades or centuries to occur, is not always supported by the evidence,” Sovacool wrote, according to Science Daily. “Moving to a new, cleaner energy system would require significant shifts in technology, political regulations, tariffs and pricing regimes, and the behaviour of users and adopters. Left to evolve by itself — as it has largely been in the past — this can indeed take many decades. A lot of stars have to align all at once. But we have learnt a sufficient amount from previous transitions that I believe future transformations can happen much more rapidly.”
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) April 8, 2016
[Image via Pixabay]