Tuesday, December 20, 2022
We grew up with the Three Musketeers as an example of honor, loyalty, and teamwork. ‘All for one and one for all’ has always served us well on a day-to-day basis, but even more so at moments of decisiveness and urgency. At times as urgent as achieving climate neutrality, what better scenario to invoke the slogan written by Dumas, since international collaboration is key to meeting this lofty goal. An ‘All for one and one for all’ in increasing investment, in setting rigorous short- and medium-term objectives, and, above all, in coordination between governments, companies, and civil society.
The Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022 of the IEA, IRENA, and the UN identifies the priorities to be addressed by collective action in five strategic productive sectors to accelerate the transition to a zero-emission world. These are the five key sectors that must work towards decarbonization of the economy by at least 55% by 2030 and in full by 2050, according to the European agendas.
The electricity sector accounts for around 23% of total greenhouse gas emissions, a figure that has increased by 10% since 2010. Emissions need to be reduced by 8% per year in this sector by 2030. To this end, it is estimated that annual investments must grow by 25% each year until 2030, with the goal of reaching US$2 trillion, of which US$1 trillion will be allocated to renewable energies.
At the same time, the report calls for the need to enhance international support to developing countries and the exchange of best practices among all countries on the socioeconomic challenges of the transition, such as the integration of low-cost clean energy or the improvement of energy system flexibility solutions, such as long-term storage. This demand was one of the central themes of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) held this past November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Member states agreed to the creation of a specific ‘loss and damage’ fund to provide funding to countries most vulnerable to climate change. Governments also established a ‘Transition Committee’ to provide advice and recommendations for mobilizing new funding arrangements by 2023. Agreements were also reached to promote the ‘Santiago Network for Loss and Damage,’ which will channel technical assistance to the most vulnerable developing countries; the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan was also set up, which estimates that it will be necessary to invest between four and six trillion dollars a year to achieve a global low-carbon economy.
It is estimated that hydrogen investment needs to be between $60 billion and $130 billion by 2030.
To increase the availability and affordability of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen, the immediate priority is for countries and companies to work together to create larger markets for its deployment and trade. Both countries and companies should, according to this report, coordinate measures to move away from fossil fuel-based production and share best practices in the deployment of new hydrogen applications.
These recommendations should be linked to sectors such as heavy vehicle mobility and energy storage; industrial uses, such as ammonia and fertilizer production; or maritime transport. Thus, according to experts, it will be necessary to increase investment in research and hydrogen production to between US$60 billion to US$130 billion by 2030.
The road transport sector generates around 10% of total emissions and has increased by almost 30% in the last 30 years, according to the European Environment Agency: the European roadmap calls for a drop of almost a third by 2030. According to the Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022, sales of zero-emission vehicles must also grow. In 2021, they accounted for 9%. By 2030, we must reach 60%, which will require a 10-fold increase in public recharging infrastructure.
Emissions from cars and heavy vehicles have grown in recent decades, mainly due to increased demand for transport, and their contribution to total greenhouse gas emissions from human activity in the EU is 4.5%. Although vehicles have become more efficient and generate fewer emissions per kilometer, it is still not enough to compensate for the increased level of activity.
Road freight transportation is strategic for global economic development because it is essential to the supply chain. However, in order to curb their emissions, one of the solutions proposed by the International Road Transport Association (ASTIC) is to renew the fleet: a heavy vehicle engine, under the Euro 2 emission standard (15 years of life), produces 95% more gas emissions into the atmosphere than the Euro 6 models currently on the market. According to a recent ASTIC survey, companies are currently finding it difficult to renew truck fleets, with delivery times exceeding one year and prices up to 50% more expensive than in 2020.
Emissions from steel manufacturing have increased by about 15% in the last decade and now account for 5% of total emissions. The steel industry is one of the sectors that has made the least progress in this direction. The technologies needed are still pilot tests; emission-efficient plants are currently only in the implementation or planning stage. Thus, the steel sector must reduce emissions in its production by at least 30% by 2030.
Smallholder farmers produce about 30% of the world's food. Agriculture and related land use account for about 17% of total emissions. In the coming years, it will be necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from this activity by 20% and to halt agricultural expansion. Related policies should be aimed at promoting technological innovation, improving access to finance for small farmers, reducing emissions, and increasing productivity.
One of the alternatives that improves the work of farmers and, at the same time, collaborates in the fight against climate change is agrovoltaic energy. This technique allows for a more rational and efficient use of the land where photovoltaic plants are installed, as the modules influence the levels of sun, temperature, wind, and humidity, favoring the growth of certain crops on the land shaded by the panels. In addition, agricultural practices in tandem with photovoltaic plants can use irrigation systems with reduced water use or solar energy for their activity, contributing to a lower carbon footprint.
Some companies, such as Cepsa, are committed to collaborating with local farmers to contribute to sustainable agricultural activity while producing clean energy. Through the ‘Sumamos Energías’ project, we work hand in hand with local councils to integrate our renewable facilities into the environment, involving citizens to promote the socioeconomic development of the region and implementing environmental and biodiversity protection measures to minimize the impact on nature.