Today’s critical reflexion on typical causes for delaying, downgrading, or rejecting climate change action is looking into “fossil fuel solutionism”, which falls under the category of overoptimism fallacies.
Today the “Climate Ambition Summit” was opened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, an event that has been announced last December as a “no nonsense summit”. Despite repeated warnings and pleas for urgency by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC, almost all indicators are off-track or even heading in the wrong direction. Although almost all countries in the world signed the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to a maximum of two and at best 1.5 degrees, emissions continue to rise.
As the UN recently criticised in a report, the main reason for this is the continuous economic exploitation of coal, oil and natural gas. Although countries like to point to successes in the expansion of renewables, far more money continues to flow into fossil fuels: while, according to the UN, around 890 billion dollars were invested annually in climate protection worldwide, almost as much was invested in fossil fuels, which were additionally subsidised by the state to the tune of 450 billion dollars. Apparently, there are still countless incentives to invest in oil and gas projects.
But renewable energy is not simply a supplement to fossil energy, it must replace it completely, and do so as quickly as possible to prevent even more human suffering in the years to come. We need to stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible, even if it means that we have to reduce our energy consumption to a certain extent until we have more infrastructure for renewables – there is no other alternative after we waited for so long. Also the UN Chief has now found absolutely unequivocal words: “There will be no room for back-sliders, greenwashers, blame-shifters, or repackaging of announcements from previous years […] Leaders must lead. No more hesitancy. No more excuses. No more waiting for others to move first. There is simply no more time for that.”