Climate Change

Beyond Paris: IRENA delivers 2050 pathway — Gorini and Prakas (Ep. 34)

This week we speak with Ricardo Gorini and  Gayathri Prakas from the ReMap team at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA published this summer the World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5 degree Celsius Pathway. Our conversation today is about the report. Yes, we get technical, but we also learn about the REASON for the report. This is not your usual climate and death report – rather it’s an ambitious challenge to world leaders to actually deliver the goods by 2050. As the report makes clear, business as usual – even in a Paris scenario – doesn’t deliver the goods.  The perspective we gain by having a conversation with members of the team, that put the report together, makes us – or at least me, appreciate the importance of the findings even more.

We learn from Gayathri that the reason for the report is not just to demonstrate that renewables are the cheapest and smartest way to save the planet. We know – or at least many of you listening to this podcast do. What we find out is that the recent youth pressure for countries to do more, to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement was the reason to push for a 1.5 Celsius scenario. Because as the report states,

Current plans fall woefully short of a 1.5°C goal. Based on existing government energy plans and targets, including the first round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, the policies in place will do no more than stabilise global emissions, with a slight drop as 2050 approaches. Despite clear evidence of human-caused climate change, widespread support for the Paris Agreement, and the prevalence of clean, economical, and sustainable energy options, energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 1.3% annually, on average, between 2014 and 2019.” pg 20

The basis of the report starts with the knowledge that governments are not doing enough and we need to be more ambitious to make it happen.

Gayathri Prakash

The report I really like because it maps out the measurable progress we need to make each year to realize a profound shift in technologies and practices. Personally, and professionally speaking, the report delivers a clear path forward. As Gayathri states, every day counts, and she is NOT exaggerating.

As I state in each episode of the My Energy 2050 Podcast, the purpose of this podcast is to highlight the people spreading the knowledge about the energy transition. This episode delivers a homerun on this account. We get a bit technical at times, so on the surface some of our discussion is, well, technical, but as you will hear throughout the episode, the justification and understanding of what technological and policy solutions are on the short term horizon – such as green hydrogen, can deliver a rapid and affordable energy transition.

A big thanks go to IRENA for approving this interview. And it follows episode 11, where I speak with Luis Janiero and Sean Collins about their roadmap for Central and Southeast Europe.

In short, this episode delivers an in-depth discussion on the pace of change, but also the path of technological developments and the tremendous potential we still have to unlock. Because renewables are ALREADY cheaper than fossil fuels. So let’s start working on the transition and leave fossil fuels for the fossils.

Ricardo Gorini – IRENA

” Innovations in technology, policy and markets are being implemented worldwide (IRENA, 2019a). Significant progress has been made in electric mobility, battery storage, digital technologies and artificial intelligence, among others. These shifts are also drawing greater attention to the need for sustainable exploitation and management of rare earths and other minerals, and investment in the circular economy. New and smart grids, ranging from mini to super grids, bolstered by facilitative policies and markets, are enhancing the power sector’s ability to cope with the variability of renewables. Direct uses of renewables – including bioenergy – and green hydrogen are bringing much-needed solutions in transport, buildings and industry.” World Energy Transitions Outlook: 15 degree Celsius Pathway, IRENA, pg 18

World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5°C Pathway (irena.org)

Links

World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5°C Pathway (irena.org)

Time to Build Green in Central and Southwest Europe – IRENA’s Renewable Roadmaps Team – MyEnergy2050

Gayathri Prakash | LinkedIn

Ricardo Gorini | LinkedIn

Show transcript – unedited

The Big Energy Decoupling (Ep. 32)

This week Michael LaBelle is providing a link with the Sustainable Development Goals and the changes we are making to our energy system. Why is this important? Climate change is altering both how we live and the natural resources we rely on. From water shortages, phasing out fossil fuels to the race for rare Earth minerals for fueling the energy transition.  How we utilize natural resources is changing not only how we heat our homes, but what powers our cars. The impact – as I will discuss today – is on adapting our energy system to ensure a sustainable development path is built.  

The topics that are addressed are:

  • Decoupling Energy and Development
  • Energy and Sustainable Development
  • Energy and Humane Development

The work and these reflections stem from collaboration between Professor LaBelle and with Professors Tekla Szep and Geza Tot. There are different publications coming out over the next year or so on these topics.

Essentially there are two different perspectives on the energy transition we are developing. One lens provides a view through linking the Human Development Index with energy consumption and the second lens links the Sustainable Development Goals with energy consumption. Taken together, as Professor LaBelle outlines today, we reach a deeper understanding into ‘energy well-being’ which defines how our economies grow while delivering the benefits of economic development to people.

Remember it is the energy system that serves humanity, not humans serving the energy system. The energy transition must be about a fair and equitable readjustment for all of society.

Climate Capitalism: Shifting to Green Growth – Michael LaBelle (Ep. 31)

Climate Capitalism is a model pushed by the threat of losing technological and political dominance by the loss of social support for capitalistic modes of production. 

Making Romania Fit for 55 — Radu Dudau

potential to build a strong renewable energy portfolio with a good natural environment in the Danube Delta and investor interests.  The European Commission wants to push the country towards 40% of renewables in the next few years. In short, Romania holds the potential to shift away from coal and embrace renewables.

Putting Climate Action Online – Anna Ackermann

In this episode, we cover why Anna Ackermann became interested in climate and energy, and how starting out with an engineering degree in Ukraine led her to dig deeper into how to change the energy system. Anna did a master’s degree at Central European University in Hungary. After her return to the country in 2014, she became a leader changing policies to increase the role of renewables and energy efficiency.  

We conclude our discussion by considering the role of online events as a way to stay up-to-date on the latest research and news, along with how to host a better online event – something we’ll be trying out very soon.  

The take away for me in this interview was Anna’s long-running interest in climate issues and how her initial – almost standard – education as an engineer was insufficient to answer her own natural curiosity and drove her to find ways to change both the formal institutional system and then starting the Climate Online portal to encourage further change. 

Anna is one of our former Central European University masters student who earned her degree in Environmental Sciences Policy and Management, as part of the Erasmus MESPOM program, that brought her to CEU and to the University of Manchester. Anna’s story post-university is both informative and inspiring for what we do after we leave formal education and how sharing our own interests and hobbies, can make a difference in the much bigger world of climate change and energy transition.  

Energy Citizens Standing up for Change – Breffni Lennon

In this episode of the MyEnergy2050 podcast, we speak to Breffni Lennon and delve into the social dimension of our energy transition. We discuss both the research process itself and how research sheds light on the plight of people regardless of their socio-economic background. Is burning coal for heat as bad as someone flying to Mexico for vacation? 

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