15 April 2019

South Africa: Energy Transition - Towards a Zero-Emission Future

analysis

A low-cost shift to clean energy is now feasible for every region of the world, owing to the plummeting costs of solar and wind power, and breakthroughs in energy storage. The total system costs of renewable energy, including transmission and storage, are now roughly on par with fossil fuels.

The solution to human-induced climate change is finally in clear view. Thanks to rapid advances in zero-carbon energy technologies and in sustainable food systems, the world can realistically end greenhouse-gas emissions by mid-century at little or no incremental cost, and with decisive benefits for safety and health.

The main obstacle is inertia: Politicians continue to favour the fossil-fuel industry and traditional agriculture mainly because they don't know better or are on the take.

Most global warming and a huge burden of air pollution results from burning fossil fuels: Coal, oil, and gas. The other main source of environmental destruction is agriculture, including deforestation, excessive fertiliser use, and methane emissions from livestock. The energy system should shift from heavily polluting fossil fuels to clean, zero-carbon energy sources such as wind and solar power, and the food system should shift from feed grains and livestock to healthier and more nutritious products.

This combined...

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