Sustainable Solutions to the Energy-Climate Dilemma
Energy-consuming human activities have led to an increasing demand for energy. A growing population has also exacerbated the energy demand. These factors have increased reliance on dirtier energy sources to sustain the global need. The use of dirtier sources like coal and fossil fuels leads to increased global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, among other devastating environmental impacts. Since these catastrophic effects affect all nations worldwide, an effort to conserve energy is a worldwide need. Nations are left to choose between economic prosperity and safe environmental practices. Some countries make financial sacrifices to preserve the environment, while others prefer to free ride and continue their reliance on dirty energy sources-a global dilemma. The paper delves into policy developments that can solve the global energy dilemma if applied.
Mutual Cooperation Agreements
Cooperation programs are some of the strategies that will go a long way to solving the global climate dilemma. These programs should assign every member country a responsibility to chase environmental goals that have been agreed upon. Although cooperation agreements exist today, they do not balance goals and expectations among different countries (Li et al., 2021). Some countries are ready to make huge sacrifices, while some receive leverage. Past agreements have placed immense pressure on Western nations while ignoring the huge pollution footprint of emerging economies like India and China. For instance, the Paris Agreement requires EU nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% before 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The agreement will likely bring positive results since every country has its nationally determined contribution (NDC).
There is a need to emphasize the economic well-being of member states if cooperation agreements are to succeed. Member countries need to agree on the minimum economic goals that cannot be compromised to pursue clean energy. A basic requirement is that a country must ensure that its citizens are well-clad, well-fed, and sheltered (Li et al., 2021). Such a goal is not necessarily local, but the global community can intervene for developing countries. For instance, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal emphasizes economic growth as a goal shared by all countries. Once all countries attain their primary economic goals, they can join hands in chasing environmental commitments.
Moreover, implementing mutual environmental agreements is not an easy task. Member countries should balance economic growth and a stable climate, but they also need to ensure that such cooperation does widen economic inequalities between countries (Li et al., 2021). Perhaps this is one of the reasons why huge emitters like India and China are sometimes excused from some tougher requirements. There is a collective agreement that these emerging economies need to develop economically first before being subjected to the same lever.
Imposing a Carbon Fee
Another strategy to reduce carbon emissions is to impose a carbon fee. The fee should be applied as a price increase on the current cost of oil (Hansen, 2012). Consequently, the benefits collected from the carbon fee should be distributed to all citizens per capita. The regular people will reap more benefits from such a levy than what they pay as a price. On the other hand, huge emitters will lose significantly.
A mistake that most governments have made is to subsidize oil prices. Subsidies encourage oil companies to explore dirty energy sources, thus endangering environmental sustainability (Hansen, 2012). The losses have been double-fold; the government loses millions in subsidy payouts as environmental pollution intensifies. As a result, governments need to come out strongly and incorporate politics in the campaign against dirty energy sources. Imposing price increases will initially receive negative public sentiment, but the move will cut carbon emissions in the long run.
Geoengineering the Planet
Human intervention to address the runaway climate change has long been viewed as a risky step. However, with the soaring greenhouse gas emissions, there is a need to take the uncomfortable initiative and implement the controversial move. Planet reengineering involves the development of technologies to influence the planet’s environment. A diverse range of research efforts and concrete actions toward reengineering the planet are in the pipeline so far. For instance, one of the technologies earmarked for implementation at the Cambridge Center is the reduction of solar radiation reaching the lower atmosphere (Pearce, 2019). One of the technologies proposed along this line is spraying aerosol particles into the stratosphere. Another approach is to cool the rapidly warming polar regions (Pearce, 2019). This can be achieved by sending ships that will pump salt particles from the ocean into polar clouds to brighten them.
The geoengineering proposals are not new. Some recommendations were floated as early as the 1960s. For instance, there was a proposal to float billions of white balls (such as golf balls) on the ocean to reflect sunlight in the US (Pearce, 2019). In addition, there was a proposal to use chemistry to remove carbon emissions directly from the atmosphere. Besides, China is floating reengineering initiatives meant to reduce global emissions, like slowing the rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers (Pearce, 2019). Although these technologies are not ready for implementation yet, they promise great potential in solving the global energy dilemma.
Pursuing Net Zero Emissions
According to Henbest et al. (2018), the Paris Agreement outlines some of the actions that can be implemented to attain net-zero emissions. Three scenarios are proposed under the Paris Agreement to achieve net-zero emissions. The first scenario proposes the adoption of green hydrogen to complement electricity, bio-energy, and recycling. The second scenario allows for the continued use of fossil fuels, complemented by carbon capture. Finally, a third proposal fronts the smaller to modular use of nuclear energy to complement solar, wind, and battery technologies. Collectively, these scenarios will lead to net emissions dropping to zero by 2050.
There are many actions that will potentially address the global energy dilemma. These measures mostly balance the economic well-being of citizens while reducing environmental pollution progressively. For instance, nations can develop mutual environmental agreements to address global warming and GHG emissions. While at it, richer countries should shield developing nations from the resulting economic shocks. Besides, there is a need for a paradigm shift in policy formulation by governments. Instead of focusing on giving oil subsidies, governments should impose a carbon fee to discourage further exploration of dirty fossil fuels. Another controversial strategy to address the global energy dilemma is the implementation of geoengineering. Although geoengineering policies are yet to be implemented, there is ongoing research.
Hansen, J. (2012). Game Over for the Climate. https://www.ecofaithrecovery.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/gw.sc_.hansengameover.5.9.12.doc1.pdf
Henbest, S., Kimmel, M., Callens, J., & Vasdev, A. (2018). New Energy Outlook 2018 | Bloomberg NEF. Bloomberg NEF. https://about.bnef.com/new-energy-outlook/
Li, Y., Sewell, D. K., Saber, S., Shank, D. B., & Kashima, Y. (2021). The climate commons dilemma: how can humanity solve the commons dilemma for the global climate commons? Climatic Change, 164(1-2). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-021-02989-2
Pearce, F. (2019, May 29). Geoengineer the Planet? More Scientists Now Say It Must Be an Option. Yale E360; Yale School of the Environment. https://e360.yale.edu/features/geoengineer-the-planet-more-scientists-now-say-it-must-be-an-option
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Drawing on your review of these and as much course material as warranted, please answer the questions below to the best of your ability in this final project. The overarching question is:
• Do you believe the energy-climate dilemma is solvable? If so, how; if not, why not?
In answering this overarching question, choose at least 3 types of developments that might help solve the energy-climate dilemma.
• For each one, identify why you selected it (i.e., what interested you in it as a possible solution to this wicked problem?).
• With each, what is the scale or significance of its development? How might it help solve the energy-climate dilemma (e.g., if a newer energy type, transport technology, or carbon sink, how much carbon does it displace or alter the use of dirtier energy types, as in the loss of forest carbon sinks or the eclipse of coal, etc.)?
• Are your developments free from geopolitical rivalry, and how can they, collectively, add up to help alter the overall problem humanity faces?
To successfully complete this assignment, you will need to organize your responses to these questions and then craft a formatted essay that includes each of the following:
• A title page;
• Well-developed introductory paragraph explaining the purpose of the essay and briefly referencing some of the main points/contentions offered in the essay;
• The body of the essay should consist of your effort to best answer the primary questions from the assignment prompt and should consist of at least 1100-1250 words of text (approximately 4-5 pages of double-spaced, 12-point font text). Though the method by which this is done is largely up to you, it is essential that the responses to the questions in the prompt be based upon scholarly readings and should remain at all times defensible (in an academic sense). You have a great deal of information to draw from in creating your essay, including the assigned readings and hyperlinked sources in the module notes. Presenting any unsubstantiated or illogical/indefensible positions will have an adverse effect on the final grade. Please direct any questions regarding these expectations to the instructor;
• A concise concluding paragraph that briefly restates both the purpose of the essay as well as some of the primary argument offered by you, the essay’s author. Be sure the concluding paragraph does not introduce new information;
• A list of all sources consulted in the preparation of the essay. The essay should be formatted according to APA-style documentation (Links to an external site.). This includes the format of the list of references.
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