Distinguished Guests, Greetings to all!
I want to start my speech with a simple yet intriguing question: “What is more important than good and clean air?” We have witnessed unprecedented progress in every field, which has raised the living standards of humankind by many folds.
Technological revolutions have increased the world’s wealth to a once-unimaginable level but at the cost of accelerating climate change and ecological devastation. The overall temperature of the world is gradually increasing and can inflict devastation on a large scale.
In order to control global warming to the recommended Paris Agreement of 1.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius, the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must decline to net-zero by 2050 and become negative in the second half of this century.
To achieve this target, we need to work together, and this requires a rapid and systemic transformation of the energy sector, starting with energy conservation and efficiency and the progressive replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy.
The developed countries in the North, which have produced the bulk of global greenhouse gas emissions, are now working extensively to mitigate the emissions. Almost all economic activities have one thing in common: they require energy. Then, it should come as no surprise that approximately 73 % of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2020 are attributable to energy-based activities.
During the last decade or so, climate change mitigation has emerged as an issue of intense public discourse. At the same time, mitigation in developing countries can only succeed if it is accompanied by economic and social development. My country Somalia and many developing countries have a wealth of renewable energy sources such as sun, wind, geothermal, and hydropower that present new horizons of opportunity for social and economic development while fostering energy.
For most of the last 200 years, the steady growth in energy consumption has been closely tied to rising levels of prosperity and economic opportunity in much of the world. However, humanity now finds itself confronting an enormous energy challenge.
Developing and emerging economies face thus a two-fold energy challenge in the 21st century: Meeting the needs of billions of people who still lack access to essential, modern energy services while simultaneously participating in a global transition to clean, low-carbon energy systems.
According to the World Bank, technological capabilities in developing countries are improving slowly. Containing global warming to 1.5 degrees is technically feasible with existing low-carbon technology—but only if deployed on a massive scale to developing countries.
Technology transfer and innovation for low carbon development observe that low-carbon technology costs are decreasing while investment, trade, and innovation in this sector are rising. However, the benefits of that progress have primarily eluded the world’s poorest countries, which play a minuscule role in low-carbon technology markets as buyers, sellers, or innovators—despite being the most vulnerable to extreme weather events, flooding, damage to infrastructure, and habitat loss.
A host of technological advancements and cost-cutting methods have enabled many countries to ramp up their renewable energy production over the past decade.
The largest renewable energy producers are China, the USA, Brazil, India, and Germany. Technological advancement has made them able to generate power in various conditions such as low wind, and wind turbine companies are rolling out new designs with increased capacity, while there has been much innovation in solar panel technology.
It gives me so much hope and joy that the world’s most advanced countries are now using the latest technologies and spending billions to achieve carbon neutrality in the coming decades. The host country, China, is again leading the way as it hopes to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will release more complete reduction plans soon with an ambitious goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2060.
Technological change on a massive scale will be needed to achieve significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and develop sustainable green energy.
The four general strategies adopted to transform the energy system of a country or region are:
> Reduce the demands for energy in all significant sectors of the economy (buildings, transportation, and industry), thus reducing the demand for fossil fuels.
> Improve the efficiency of energy utilization so that less fossil fuel is required to meet “end-use” energy demands, resulting in lower CO2 emissions.
> Replace high-carbon fossil fuels such as coal and oil with lower-carbon or zero-carbon alternatives such as natural gas, nuclear, and renewable energy sources such as biomass, wind, and solar.
> Capture and sequester the CO2 emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels to prevent its release into the atmosphere.
In the end, I would like to conclude my speech with some essential points.
The international climate architecture should be strengthened to favor the least-developed countries.
The most developed countries should lead the way and collaborate to provide a platform for global decision-makers, stakeholders, scientists, and engineers to share their outstanding research and exchange their inspiring ideas to make this world secure for our future generations.
Create demand for low carbon technology products and encourage innovation through domestic policies such as subsidies, public procurement, and financing.
Technology innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will also require increased numbers of skilled workers, especially engineers and scientists in a wide variety of disciplines for which prominent educational institutes should lead the way.
I am grateful to honorable Mr. Binge PENG and Taihe Institute for inviting me to the 5th Taihe Civilizations Forum and provided me the opportunity to share my views on these critical issues.
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