The end of the fossil fuel era and the "Green" course in the public-practical discourse of Ukraine and the world

We have only used oil, coal and gas for 200 years, but it’s leading us to a climate crisis whose consequences will be catastrophic. In order for the global average temperature to rise below 1.5° C for the purposes of the Paris Agreement, we need to stop using fossil fuels and leave up to 80% of the earth’s reserves in the ground. That is why, in order to build a new climate-neutral economy, we need to create our own Green Course, based on the European Green Deal (EGD).

It is no coincidence that the European Union has created a need for a new green course in response to all major climate risks in areas such as energy, the economy, the environment and the use of natural resources, sustainable development and equal basic conditions of social welfare.

Fossil fuels as the root of the problem, and climate change as the consequence are damaging all of these areas. Combustion of fossil fuels causes 90% of all carbon emissions from human activities, as well as:

  • air pollution, which is associated with an increase in respiratory diseases and reduced life expectancy.

  • acidification of sea and ocean waters, which affects the life cycles of marine organisms. The ocean absorbs heat from fossil fuel emissions, resulting in rising global temperatures and dying coral reefs.

  • biodiversity loss and impact on land resources. Drilling wells, pipelines and refineries for the oil and gas industry significantly disrupts and often destroys wildlife habitats, flora and unique natural landscapes, reduces the number and access to land plots, including those used for agriculture or recreation purposes.

  • transportation of fossil fuels is associated with significant environmental risks from burning diesel fuel, oil spills, leaks of combustible natural gas.

  • Climate change and related to it climate, social and economic injustices: loss of access to drinking water, sanitation and decent living conditions, climate migration, loss sourceі of income and property, food shortages and the decline of traditional agriculture, growing poverty and loss jobs, the growing need to adapt to climate change and protection from frequent and severe natural disasters, the lack of funding for the climate sector.

Refusal of fossil fuels is possible through the impact on the following areas:

  1. Political will, political decisions and demands of the electorate to the candidates in the elections, of the the current government, the President and the Parliament. Without collective political action and pressure on parliament and government to reduce emissions on a corporate, national and global scale, the transition from fossil energy sources to the renewable ones is impossible. Agenda for deputies to abandon fossil fuels, transition to renewable energy, energy efficiency, development of public transport and demand the development of a comprehensive Green Course with questions, protests, petitions, messages on social networks, intersectoral advocacy of NGOs and their coalitions - these are the ways through which can take place an immediate social and "green" transformation.

  2. Termination of subsidies, lending and investment in the fossil fuel industry. According to the IMF, the coal, oil and gas industries receive financing $ 5 trillion a year and $ 10 million a minute. Direct subsidies for fossil fuel consumption are twice as high as subsidies for renewable energy sources, which, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), significantly complicates the task of overcoming the climate crisis. The G20 countries promised to stop subsidizing fossil industries back in 2009, but today they are subsidizing fossil fuels even more, especially during the pandemic. In Ukraine, the state has been subsidizing unprofitable coal mines for years and supporting the oligarchization of the fossil fuel sector, as well as the neglect of such enterprises' basic requirements for monitoring and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions.

  3. Reduction of demand for energy from fossil fuels and economic pressure on producers. Ukrainian coal thermal power stations, which produce ½ of all electricity for the domestic market, are the dirtiest in the world, and the energy from them is the most expensive. Since 2015, the construction of new coal thermal power stations in the world has decreased by 84%, as it has ceased to be economically viable, but in Ukraine, oil, coal and gas are still considered the main promising resources at the government level. Information work is needed with fossil fuel energy consumers to find alternatives, including switching to renewable energy, energy efficiency and tackling energy poverty. Social movements can also put social and political pressure on the state regulator and fossil fuel energy producers to promote the transition to a green economy and renewable energy.

 

  1. Ukraine is only starting to overcome the difficult path to establishing an Emission Trading Scheme under the Association Agreement with the EU, combined with a carbon tax. Carbon emissions per unit of output in Ukraine are three times higher than in the EU countries and soon producers will have to pay a lot of money for the possibility of exporting such products to the EU budget. The carbon tax forces businesses to incorporate climate change losses into their business plans, reduce emissions and use clean technology. However, the additional costs of carbon emissions in one country may encourage businesses to locate businesses in others. To prevent this, Europe is introducing a cross-border carbon tax.

 

  1. Capture and disposal of CO2 from burning fossil fuels. Without a carbon tax, companies do not yet have the economic and legal incentive to develop and implement new carbon capture technologies. These technologies are poorly researched and expensive, but have a future. Organizations from the United States and Europe have summarized the prospects of the new market, assessing a dozen ways to capture CO2, its processing and use, and believe that this industry should become one of the key in the world.

 

  1. Accounting, measuring and reporting of climate risks in economic activity. Global markets still do not have mandatory, comparable data at the company level to measure the risks posed by the climate crisis as a combination of hydrometeorological hazards and hazardous climate change. According to the Global Risks report 2020, risks such as economic confrontation, extreme weather events (heat), destruction of natural resource ecosystems and others will increase this year. However, all climate risks are based on the political risk of climate apartheid, when only wealthy people in climate-friendly regions will have access to low-cost clean energy, greenery and security from climate catastrophes.

 

  1. Local climate leadership of communities and citizens in achieving the goals of the "Green" course. The "green course" in cities is a roadmap for local reforms to overcome the climate crisis and social injustice. Such documents in cities can be a climate strategy, an action plan for sustainable energy development and climate, a local program of energy transition and adaptation to climate change, strategic assessment of the potential for transition to energy from renewable sources, modeling possible scenarios of energy transition. The course should be set by the country's leadership, but without city leadership it will not be implemented. Cities can have more ambitious goals than a country, they then need government support and become catalysts for national change and reform.