OPINION: It's now or never -- time is running out

Unless your name is Donald Trump, the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Michael in Florida last month shows climate change is already having an impact on our economy and livelihoods.

A series of reports published in recent weeks highlights that matters can only get worse if the world fails to act now.

The stark warning by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that we have just 12 years left to significantly cut carbon emissions and keep global warming to below 1.5°C or face catastrophic effects received widespread media coverage.

The realities of what would happen if we allow temperatures to increase by that extra half degree to 2°C should serve as a reminder why the world needs to start aiming higher.

DNV GL released its Energy Transition Outlook 2018 in September, calling for intervention to push electrification of the grid.

At the current rate, the world’s first emission-free year will not arrive until 2090.

Financial services firm PwC issued a warning in early October that the chance of limiting global warming to 2°C, as agreed under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, is "almost zero".

These are grim prospects.  

This body of research and analysis should be enough to shock politicians into action.

A serious lack of urgency from any major government to these warnings seems to suggests one of two things: either these politicians are more expert in such matters and don’t see it as a problem, or they simply don’t get it.

Or maybe they're just waiting to see what others do.

Need for ambition

The biennial WindEnergy Hamburg event at the end of September offered the opportunity to showcase new technology.

But it featured just two turbine launches — both simple 500kW upgrades of established platforms, albeit breaking through 5MW onshore and 10MW offshore barriers. Where is the ambition from the industry, let alone policymakers?

At the Future of Energy Summit in London, BNEF’s head of global analysis, Albert Cheung said: "What got you here, won’t get you there", and this lesson sticks in the mind.

There needs to be a change in the way the market operates, how it makes its arguments and how it gets its message across to a wider audience.

This includes hybridisation, which we take a closer look at in this issue, but also the role of digitalisation, the acceleration of electrification, especially in the heat and transport sectors, and in energy storage, so the need for carbon-emitting generators is quickly eradicated.

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