CARMA 2.0 has arrived! Power sector still stuck on fossil fuel
CARMA 2.0 has arrived! And our analysis of the latest data shows that the world still has a long way to go on curbing emissions growth.
Last week’s Washington Post feature on CARMA focuses on massive growth in Chinese emissions. Although pollution wasn’t big news once the Olympics started, this year China’s power sector will emit more CO2 than the US power sector for the first time. Furthermore, rapid construction of coal-fired plants is wiping out any improvements in emissions intensity. But China will (sort of) head in the right direction, on carbon intensity, as it doubles electricity production over the next decade: the share of fossil-fuel generation will decrease from 83% to 73%.
What about the rest of the world? Well, in India the share of fossil fuel plants in India will only increase by 1% over the next decade and decrease in overall intensity, but generating capacity will triple over the same period and 77% of capacity will depend on fossil fuels.
In Europe, great wealth, soaring environmental rhetoric, and world-leading technologies suggest the region should be leading a massive push to replace fossil plants with renewable energy technologies. In fact, Europeans have some explaining to do, as the continent as a whole is poised to increase the share of fossil-fuel power from 47% to 53% at the same time governments are reconsidering the costs of subsidizing renewables. This certainly won’t help things.
And in the US, despite permitting delays and cancellations of coal-fired power plants, the fossil fuel share is set for a 2% increase, to 71%. Public support for renewable energy notwithstanding, the unstable investment climate caused by a Congressional standoff on investment tax credits is delaying rapid development of the sector.
In sum, the world is still heading in the wrong direction as far as the atmosphere is concerned. As IPCC head R.K. Pachauri was quoted as saying in a Washington Post op-ed last week, “The cities, power plants and factories we build in the next seven years will shape our climate in mid-century.” Postponing a push toward renewable energy will make the inevitable switch vastly more expensive than it has to be, in terms of the sunk costs of investments in fossil fuel technologies as well as the cost of any climate-related economic damage. These costs make the current lack of political will to reduce dependence on carbon-intensive energy seem staggeringly myopic.
But this will no doubt change. Already, India’s government is concerned about National Thermal Power Corporation’s CARMA, and that emissions disclosure on CARMA will hinder fundraising for coal power plants. Here in the US, major Wall Street banks are pricing CO2 in their lending models. But the question remains whether political leaders worldwide will act soon enough to make a difference.
We’ll keep you updated when CARMA 3.0 comes out next year!