• Hans van Mameren

Yes we can do an energy transition within 5 to 10 years

Nearly daily news reports are coming out from all kind of organisations and scientists which warn on a much faster change on a range of climate issues. Glaciers are melting faster as predicted before and large swatches of ice are breaking loose on Arctic and Antarctic. Tony Seba gave a good presentation on how “Exponential Change” works. And this theory is applicable on many fields. Climate Change included.

My own saying is: “to recognize the point of no-return one has to look back”. Fatalistic but not less true. And when this be the case for Climate Change we are in a very dire state. When all the melting ice causes the sea level to rise a catastrophe is unfolding only seen before by dinosaurs. And this is only about sealevel rise. Not all the other implications of a Changing Climate and its impact of social and political aspects.

We have to make a chose. Which of the 2 options:

  1. Either we consider it a Chinese Hoax and we do nothing and protect our present economy which has done so well in the past, at least for some of us. Taking the risk that in case we are wrong tremendous value of all our assets will drown.

  2. Or we change rapidly and avoid the catastrophe by building a new economy on circular production. Large value will be destroyed but new will be build. Some rich will lose, others will gain. But at least we all will not drown.

When sea levels rise 50 cm it will be bad for Kiribati, Maldives and islands here and there. But what will happen when it rises 1 m or even more. This requires only a part of the ice to be melted. That still is very far off from what is will be when all ice is melted. Some predict much, much higher levels.

The world economy is driven by shipping. 90% of all value is transported by ships. With a rise of 2 or 3 meter already all infrastructure on ports is useless. All value gone. Not only of the port facility itself but also the infrastructure behind it. And this will include not just a few ports and port cities but large metropoles all over the world. The American journalist Jeff Goodell wrote his book “The water will come” a few years ago. And he writes that data on which the Paris Agreements of 2015 are based is already outdated in 2017. And now it is 2019 and reports and observations are again more pessimistic.

The most important question is: Can we change that fast and what will be the impacts, positive and negative? We can, if we want!But leaders need to see the necessity and have the ambition to lead. Politics and Business leaders seem to be absent. At this moment change is mainly driven from the bottom. How many sixteen-year-old girls are needed to inspire and make 1 leader move?

A full energy transition within 5 to 10 years is possible. But it requires the full commitment of all, governments, corporates, consumer organisations, etc. That we can take on such a challenge is proven in history:

Eighty years ago, WWII was about to start, six years later it was over. Before it started some said: “No worries, it will not be that bad”. Others said: “We will fight for our freedom” and did so. At immense sacrifices, costs and destruction. A very high price paid for freedom and welfare.

Within these 6 years an Industrial, Technological and Scientific miracle was achieved. Something never seen before. Thousands of ships, tens of thousands of aircrafts and tanks, hundreds of thousands smaller units were built. The world learnt to know the destructive force of a nuclear bomb, something unheard of before. All because our grandparents had the will and the drive to make it happens. And we? We dare not even to dream of an energy transition in 5 or 10 years. Afraid to write off some assets?

Even the devastation created in those 6 years was undone in a handful of decades. At great costs, but still a good investment for freedom and prosperity. But now we also learn the down-side of this achievement. We messed up our environment, our climate and our institutions. So, set it right!

Fifty years ago, Elisabeth Kübler- Ross presented her famous book” On Death and Dying” and defined “The 5 Stages of Grieve: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance”. Although debated much since its publication it has a remarkable similarity with the present situation.

It seems mankind is by now going through this cycle as well. Some deny, (Trump), others anger (Extinction Rebellion), some bargain (Shell).

Let’s skip depression and fight acceptance. We must. Take courage from our Grandparents. Their tasks were much, much heavier. Their sacrifices enormous. Still they made it.

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