What Decarbonization Is, and Why It’s Essential

All around the world, governments are seeking to find ways to reduce the production of carbon dioxide to prevent further destruction due to global warming. This was the basis of the Paris Agreement, which was signed by United Nations members in 2015. The goal is to prevent warming in excess of 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.

However, many researchers warn that much more needs to be done to prevent the catastrophic consequences of climate change that are on the horizon. To keep warming within acceptable levels, experts believe that deep decarbonization is necessary.

The need for decarbonization

Decarbonization refers to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from human activity, which gets trapped in the atmosphere and leads to climate change. The goal of this is to completely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and achieve climate stabilization. To do so, it’s necessary to change how we generate and use electric energy and switch to renewable energy forms that emit little to no carbon dioxide.

Why decarbonization is necessary

While the Paris Agreement was a good first step, the fact is that the world is lagging behind the goals set in the pact. That means that the globe is on pace to raise temperatures beyond the acceptable level of 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, even in best-case scenarios.

To give an idea of the impact of this, the last time the world was this warm, sea levels were 6 meters higher than they are today. Many coastal cities would sink underwater due to rising tides.

However, deep decarbonization makes the world’s chances better to meet more optimistic scenarios where the impact of climate change is less dire.

How decarbonization can happen

While it’s impossible to abandon all use of fossil fuels overnight, it is possible to dramatically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide-emitting energy used. Producing, storing and distributing electricity is an area where decarbonization can play a significant role. Solar and wind power use, for example, are great alternatives, but until recently have only been available in certain climates.

However, exciting new technological developments are opening up possibilities for decarbonization. For example, smart charging of electric vehicles can actually use the vehicles’ batteries to stabilize the power grid. Plug in enough vehicles and much of the grid can be accommodated. With the rapid growth of the electric vehicle market, this appears to be a more achievable goal.

Some industry experts say that nearly a third of all vehicles worldwide will be electric by 2030. At that point, more than 40 percent of all new car sales are expected to be for electric vehicles.

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