Our changing climate is a hot topic now, and discussion is now shifting from a debate about whether there’s a problem, to what we’re going to do about it. Over the last 10 years, our world has witnessed strong acceleration and growth across a wide range of technologies and financing mechanisms, many of which put us on the road towards resolving climate change. As we continue along this metaphorical road, it’s best to have a clear destination in sight, as well as the shortest possible route to get there. To succeed, we must design a roadmap that lays out our capabilities as a society using available resources, as well as what we foresee with new resources coming online. With this vision, we’ve developed The Climate Roadmap.
It starts with a look at the past, and then looks to the future:
This Roadmap becomes clear when looking backwards from the destination. The destination is a healthy climate, and the route there has two parts: switching from fossil fuels to clean energy, and restoring the ice caps, oceans, and atmosphere. The Climate Roadmap focuses on the first part: the rapid switch-over from fossil fuels. The innovations required to speed up the restoration of our climate is a topic for another roadmap.
Utility companies around the world have recently started planning for rapid changes because well over half of all new electrical generation coming online each year is now from renewables, consistent with the Climate Roadmap. Because the changes in oil and gas consumption lag about 5 years behind changes in electrical production, we can expect oil companies to similarly recognize the change coming within the next five years, and then modify their investment strategies.
And the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is well underway! To picture this change, think of what it was like to see the first Ford Model T passing a horse and carriage. For many carriage makers, their stockholders and everyone involved in that industry, the future could have looked grim. But a handful of members of the carriage industry began participating in the new automotive industry. They successfully adapted to the explosive synergy of…
1) a new energy source (petrol)
2) in a recently improved invention (the internal combustion engine)
3) that was a superior solution to an existing need of society (human and freight transportation).
It’s happening again. The public, stockholders, executives and policy makers are similarly watching the renewable energy industry begin to pass fossil fuels on the road to the future. They too have identified the synergy of…
1) newly useful energy sources (sun and wind)
2) steadily improving technology (better, cheaper photovoltaics for solar, turbines for wind, batteries for cars and utilities)
3) innovative financing tools and
4) a superior solution to an existing needs of society (energy without climate damaging side effects).
Now that we know what characteristics signal an industry and society on the brink of change, we can start thinking about what happens next and, importantly, start asking the right questions.
Given the technology and finances we have, what is possible to meet our needs?
What are the barriers to realizing our goals and how do we overcome them?
This document will address how the answer to these questions helps us envision and enact our future in a twenty year time span. Introducing the Climate Roadmap to 2035.