The Ukraine Crisis An Opportunity To Switch From Fossil To Clean Energy

Published On: March 9, 2014

The current crisis between Russia, the Ukraine and the West […]

The current crisis between Russia, the Ukraine and the West has escalated so far to pose a threat to the energy security of Germany. The New York Times noted: “Germany is now heavily reliant on Russia for its energy needs, importing more natural gas from Russia than any other country in Europe.” Further is the situation a problem for plans by fossil fuel companies such as Chevron (Ukraine signs $10 billion shale gas deal with Chevron). 

What a broiling tragedy for gas consumers and businesses! But wait a minute! Wasn’t there more to this? Indeed, since the world is on the brink to a food crisis ( and models do not even include impacts from extreme weather), driven by – get this c l i m a t e change.

So how serious is Russia about combating climate change? Recently Russia outlined plans to meet 2020 climate goals – but this won’t be enough, just a drip on the tip of an iceberg and soon the devastating wildfires and droughts from 2010 could repeat, with all the national security implications on a global scale when grain import/exports come to a halt – again.

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The Spiegel recently outlined the possibilities for Germany to embrace alternatives to the gas imports and among other options highlighted renewable energies. Image via: Spiegel

Meanwhile world governments prepared a non binding agreement to keep the global mean temperature below a 2°C target. However, it becomes more clear that we will likely surpass this boundary. And besides, science cautions us that the target is a recipe for disaster.

James Hansen
James Hansen

NBC: “Yet we are going in exactly the wrong direction in the sense that we are encouraging searching for every fossil fuel that can be found,” James Hansen, a retired NASA climate scientist now affiliated with Columbia University in New York, told NBC News.

Carbon fee
To reverse course, Hansen proposes to hit the biggest carbon polluters where they feel it most — their bank accounts.

Hansen says a carbon fee could be charged to fossil fuel companies. Those companies that reduce their fossil fuel use will make more money, spurring innovation in carbon-free energy. In case the counter argument is that the fossil fuel companies would just pass the charge along to their customers, Hansen says that funds (raised from the fee) could be distributed back to the public to offset the higher costs.

See also  Pentagon: The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review

A 2°C target that everyone seems to accept now is actually a recipe for disaster.” If the world warms 2 degrees, it would spur so-called “slow” feedbacks in the climate system such as methane release from melting permafrost and ice-free oceans absorbing more heat.

These slow feedbacks could lead to actual warming of 4 to 6 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) — a scale that could disintegrate the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to the point “that the dynamics and momentum of the process take over,” the team writes in PLoS One.

Further Reading: Isaac Asimov Explains The Carbon Tax

Among the solutions, such as a carbon/Co2 tax, above all else we’ve to phase out fossil energy burning immediately and embrace clean energy technologies, such as the Electric car, more energy efficient solutions and help to preserve natural carbon sinks. If we do not take the chances we have left today, the future will not offer us a second chance. The climate is reacting very slow and we only just begun to experience the emissions we helped to emit 40 years ago.

SkepticalScience: Implications of the 40 Year Delay

The estimate of 40 years for climate lag, the time between the cause (increased greenhouse gas emissions) and the effect (increased temperatures), has profound negative consequences for humanity. However, if governments can find the will to act, there are positive consequences as well.

See also  NASA: Montreal Protocol a Success (Saving the Ozone Layer)

With 40 years between cause and effect, it means that average temperatures of the last decade are a result of what we were thoughtlessly putting into the air in the 1960’s. It also means that the true impact of our emissions over the last decade will not be felt until the 2040’s. This thought should send a chill down your spine!

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About the Author: Climate State

Climate State
Climate State covers the broad spectrum of climate change, and the solutions, since 2011 with the focus on the sciences. Climate State – we endorse data, facts, empirical evidence.
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Tom Mallard
Tom Mallard
10 years ago

The “40-year” delay is like the old-fashioned icebox that used block ice on top, when the cold stored from the ice-ages is thawed enough, it’s like the ice finally melting away so the food spoils, or in our case global temperatures shoot up, jumps of 10C-14C have been seen in Greenland ice cores in as little as 40-years.

So what’s going on? Burn baby burn …

Business as Usual thus guaranteeing the cook out that no “geo-engineering” pipe dream fixes for sure, fossil methane isn’t a biofuel, when a wellhead goes in there are about 10-years of emissions released so this excess has to be countered by burning fossil methane INSTEAD of coal to get any slight reduction in overall carbon emissions per watt on the wire.

Coal production and usage is going up so all fracking does is use up a lot of fresh water and nothing else positive happens on greenhousing, if it did history would prove that and seeing the warming Arctic and radiative index rising so fast history proves fracking is a false god for cash no value.

Sure is profitable for certain people to sell more snake oil, works great to cook the planet faster if you burn it instead of growing algae for biodiesel from wastewater to make zillions of gallons a day no problem by harvesting algae, but that makes too much sense, eh? Biodiesel isn’t perfect but to make it removes CO2 and emits O2 before you burn it, very close to carbon neutral.

Maggie @ Coral
10 years ago

This is interesting, threatening the national security of a country and feeling under the thumb of a (rival) nation are both viable reasons why western governments might seek to ween themselves away from Russia’s hold on the market.

Bob Bingham
9 years ago

Russia has proved to be an unreliable supplier to important customers. Russia can sell it gas to many countries but alienating the huge economic market of Europe will be a long lasting mistake.