The Sennen Roundup | Article 2 | 15.12.2022

2022: The year people started believing in climate change

BY: Gaby Amiel, Sennen Co-Founder & CEO


The pace of the unfolding climate crisis is, in planetary terms, unbelievably rapid.

Last year it was the ‘heat dome’ in the US and wildfires in Australia that hit the headlines. This year it was Europe that suffered drought and an exceptional heat wave, along with drought in China and massive floods in Pakistan. Exceptional historically, but rapidly becoming a regular event.

The fact that we can perceive our climate change from 5 or even 10 years ago suggests how the pace of the unfolding climate crisis is, in planetary terms, unbelievably rapid. Whether it is the start or the end of an ice age, the earth’s temperature will change a degree or two over tens of thousands of years. To put this in perspective, we have hit 1.2 degrees in 150 years. What people often miss is that the pace of change is accelerating and despite all the discussions on the topic, emissions remain at near-record highs.

Price of Energy

As we all know, the cost of heating our homes has massively increased in 2022, but what is the right price of power?

  • High prices reduce demand BUT ALSO lead to increased exploration and production of fossil fuels.
  • Low prices reduce the extraction of fossil fuels BUT encourage liberal use and make it hard for new technologies to break through.

This means that we cannot rely on the market to provide the optimal incentives to switch away from fossil fuels. We need government regulation to foster new technologies and drive down the use of the most harmful practices. 

On a positive note, 2022 marked the year the USA finally started taking serious action towards decarbonisation. The Inflation Reduction Act has launched tax incentives that will massively ramp up the deployment of renewables, with the deployment rate expected to increase from 40GW/year to 100GW/yr or perhaps 150GW/yr. What’s more hopeful is that there are similar levels of incentives for electric vehicles, carbon capture and hydrogen production.

For the first time ever, the economics of using existing fossil fuel power plants to generate electricity may be challenged. Power prices in the US are expected to reduce as we approach 2030 as a result of huge investment in renewables, possibly reaching as low as £10/MWh.

Let’s not waste a good crisis

The dominant news story of 2022 has been energy costs and the cost of living. This is a short-term view of the problem… So short term is it that we worry endlessly about the cost of living THIS year, THIS winter, but we do not stop to consider what will be the threat to our livelihood in 20, 30 or 40 years. For instance, climate change will affect food production. How and when we cannot predict but we know that the impact will exponentially grow and grow. Even in wealthy western countries, the times of abundant plentiful food for all may be numbered.

With fossil fuel use unchecked, our and more importantly our children’s future is an uncertain and frightening one.

Here in the UK, we need to get serious about reducing our use of gas and oil. There is a pretty firm consensus on what that means: a national programme of insulation and replacement of gas boilers with electrical-driven heating (mainly air-source heat pumps). It also means accelerating the deployment of alternative power sources, mandating the collection of food waste for Biogas and Biomethane production, as well as more onshore wind and solar energy production. 

As the US has done, we also need to incentivise rapid EV adoption. However, because we live on a congested island we also need to think seriously about boosting mass public transport systems that have been neglected and further hammered by COVID. 

Finally, on a personal level, we need to be less “British” about climate change. It is considered “depressing” to mention in polite company.  This needs to change. The more we discuss the difficult choices that we face, the more our politicians are empowered to make the radical changes required.

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