Currently, the daily CO2 emission levels stand at 406.47 ppm (parts per million globally). And considering the growing population which is estimated to be 7.5 billion in 2017, showing a 1.11% growth rate, it is fairly easy to understand that our world needs a change to preserve its nourishing atmosphere that is quickly fading. We are all more or less aware that global transport has a huge contribution in increasing CO2 levels (Air travel has highest emissions per person/km, and it has produced 781 million tonnes of CO2 in 2015). However, it is but one of the several aspects of the problem, all of which are tightly rooted to our energy generation and usage choices.
Our fossil fuel usage has given our society the push it needed to innovate a better, comfortable, and convenient life structure. But in the process, it has crippled our environment to do what it naturally does: protect life. Global energy supply through fossil fuels have reached from 6,100 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 1977 to 13,700 Mtoe by 2014. And unfortunately, Coal still holds its position as the second-largest energy source in the world. Such utilization choices have resulted into making countries like- China, India, and United States the top coal-related CO2 emitters, which are suspected to account for 70% of global CO2 emissions in future. Research shows that if our fossil fuel usage dependency persists, energy-related CO2 emissions in the world will increase from 32.3 billion metric tons in 2012 to 35.6 billion metric tons in 2020, ultimately reaching 43.2 billion metric tons in 2040. Which, needless to say, will put our world in a bind that would be hard to get out of.
Region Wise Energy Based CO2 Emissions
Global energy related CO2 emissions are estimated to increase at an average of 1.0% from 2012 to 2040. Emissions in Mexico and Chile grew by 1.1%/year, while South Korea saw an increase of 1.0%/year (in average). In Europe, CO2 emissions increased by 0.2%/year and in the Americas, 0.3%/year (in average) increase is noted.
Asia stands with approximately 59% growth in global CO2 emissions from 2012 to an estimated 2040. China contributed to more than 41% of the total CO2 increase in Asia’s greenhouse gas emission, although the country has shown only 1.0%/year growth in CO2 emission. In comparison to other countries, it is noticeable that India stands with a 2.7%/year increase in CO2 emissions. From coal combustion alone, Asia’s CO2 emission is estimated to rise more than 2.2 billion metric tons in the future if the championed alternative ‘solar energy’ is not aggressively implemented.
Ray of Hope
In search for the perfect energy alternative that can sustain the planet’s environment, never did we think that the proverbial ‘ray of hope’ would literally be the rays from the Sun. Moreover; global acceptance towards solar energy is growing rapidly, resulting in rising global PV growth from 57.8 GW in 2015, to approximately 64.7 GW in 2016 and estimated to be 79 GW in 2017. Investment in renewable energy has also increased (globally $286bn in 2016), even surpassing that in fossil fuels ($130bn globally in 2016). These developments and rapid growth of renewable energy markets in developing markets like- Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America offers a way to prevent, the pollution ravaged planet our fossil fuel dependency would have created.
Utilizing renewable energy has helped Japan to phase out fossil fuel usage, displaying a decline in CO2 emission by 0.4%/year. Research also suggests that increase in renewable energy (mainly solar) has reduced fossil fuel share by 22 per cent. Share of coal in the total energy mix has also fallen by 28 per cent within 2012, with growing renewable energy implementation, and estimated to fall further by 22 per cent within 2040.
It is amazing that 1 KW of green energy can reduce more than 3,000 pounds of CO2 annually. Therefore, it is easy to imagine that the faster we phase out fossil fuels and use solar as a mainstream energy source, the faster we will restore our environment from intensifying damages.