One major point Vaclav Smil made was that, “Each major energy source that has dominated world supply has taken 50-60 years to rise to the top spot” (Smil, p55 2014). With that being said, it would only make sense to project the next major energy source to take around the same time which would be a fair assessment to make. In the Army, we used a system called backwards planning sometimes to plan for events scheduled on the calendar for long term. I believe that should be the case with the energy dilemma as well. If policy makers take into account the history then perhaps they could come up with plans and policies that reflect what is known to be likely to happen. He also points out that, “The most important way to speed up the gradual transition to renewables is to lower overall energy use through efficiency gains. The faster global demand rises, the more difficult it is to supply a large fraction of it” (2014, p56). If policy makers are able to account for the growing demand of energy against the realistic renewable energy equivalency while simultaneously lowering the overall energy usage then we have a chance to displace the conventional fossil fuels complex. According to Mike Bradshaw, “As living standards increase so does demand for white goods, vehicles, and all the other trappings of consumer society. Therefore, for this group of countries, the key imperative is securing sufficient energy to continue to fuel economic growth and the improvement of living standards” (Bradshaw, 2013 p.185). One of the key policy prescriptions identified by Bradshaw is with the high-income countries; they need to provide financing and low-carbon technologies to developing countries. That is important because those developing countries won’t rely on fossil fuel imports which would be a trickling effect. The countries that are major exporters of fossil fuels will be affected and thus have no choice but to rely on the renewable energy alternatives. In turn, they will focus their energy on the need for renewables changing their economy and so forth.
Since the transportation sector is one of the leading contributors to GHG emissions, electric vehicles seem like an obvious alternative as part of the decarbonization initiative. Electric vehicles reduce overall energy consumption and emissions in the long run. Studies show that manufacturing of electric vehicles produces more emissions but in the use phase it makes up for this by its ability to travel farther with a given amount of energy. More specifically, “An average electric vehicle in Europe produces 50% less life-cycle greenhouse gases over the first 150,000 kilometers of driving, although the relative benefit varies from 28% to 72%, depending on local electricity production.4An electric car’s higher manufacturing-phase emissions would be paid back in 2 years of driving with European average grid electricity compared to a typical vehicle” (Hall & Lutsey, 2018). Due to the lowered carbon emissions of electric vehicles in the long run, they are definitely a realistic alternative to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Furthermore, in order to lower the carbon emissions while also meeting the demands of energy needs, electric vehicles being apart of the transportation sector (one of the largest carbon emitters) would satisfy a goal of lowering individual carbon footprints.
Bradshaw, M.J. (2014). Global energy dilemmas: Energy security, globalization, and climate change. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, pp. 181–193.
Green Car Congress. (2013, August 6). Exploring the adoption of EVs in the US, Europe and China; charging scenarios and infrastructure. Retrieved from https://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/08/icct-20130806.html#more.
Hall, D., Lutsey, N. (2018, February). Effects of battery manufacturing on electric vehicle life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. Retrieved from https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/EV-life-cycle-GHG_ICCT-Briefing_09022018_vF.pdf.
Smil, V. (2014). The long slow rise of wind and solarPreview the document [PDF, File Size 493KB]. Scientific American, 310(1), pp. 52–57.
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