This is what we need to invent to fight climate change

“fossil fuels still fulfill about 80 percent of the world’s energy needs. Global greenhouse gas emissions appear to have been holding fairly steady for a decade now, but to keep the world from warming up more than 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit this century, those emissions have to fall by half from their current levels by 2030.

So despite the advances, the pace of deployment of clean energy is still far too slow to keep more dangerous levels of warming in check. Getting on course will likely require even cheaper, more efficient, and higher-performing versions of the tools we have now. But it will also demand advances in fledgling clean technologies, like capturing carbon dioxide straight from the air.

At the same time, money and political will to deal with climate change are in short supply around the world, given competing demands from the Covid-19 pandemic, inflation, and international conflicts. With limited time and money, it’s critical to figure out what research will yield the most impactful innovations to counter climate change.

It’s difficult to predict which investments will lead to breakthroughs, but some researchers say there are ways to improve the odds. It requires thinking carefully about how potential innovations would scale and draw investment, but also demands policies to create the conditions for an even bigger clean energy revolution.”

“Renewables have now become the cheapest source of new electricity production around the world. In half of the world, installing new wind or solar power is cheaper than running existing fossil fuel power plants.

These developments were spurred by large government investments and energy policies, with some private sector backing. Photovoltaic panels, for example, benefited from early research in the United States, Japanese companies developing applications for solar, an aggressive feed-in tariff incentive in Germany, and massive production scale-up in China. The development process spanned decades, with the first solar panels invented in the 1950s and foundational research beginning in the 1970s. Governments also helped create demand for clean energy, by setting targets for deployment and subsidizing their purchase prices.”

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