Devastating fires, droughts and repeated heat waves for some. Deadly floods for others. At first glance, the results of this year 2022 seem pretty disastrous for our planet. That is without considering some good news that could start to put a smile on our face.
Greenhouse gas emissions are falling
Well, okay, the 27the The Conference of Signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP27, held last November near Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) did not keep its promises. No new commitments have been made to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and thus maintain hope of keeping man-made global warming below 1.5°C.
But in its report from 2022, the High Council for the Climate, which is responsible for evaluating public policies in the fight against climate change, points out: “In France, greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 are 3.8% below their 2019 level.And if the good numbers are yet to be confirmed for the transport and agriculture sectors, they now appear to be long-term for construction, industry and energy. Although they remain far from the targets set by Europe in 2021: a 55% reduction in emissions between 1990 and 2030. We will achieve this by doubling our current annual rate.
The figures for the year 2022 are not yet known. But according to Citepa, which calculates greenhouse gas emissions in France, the first six months of the year were stable compared to 2021…
Sobriety is at the center
This is what you might call a blessing in disguise. The energy crisis that had been simmering for months and erupted with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. A critical situation that made our leaders very seriously ask themselves the question of sobriety.
Scientists have been saying that for a long time. If we want to save our climate, we will have to reduce our energy consumption. By changing our lifestyles and transforming our society. Geopolitics has helped make them heard. In Italy and Germany, some monuments have not been illuminated for months. In France, several cities have chosen to turn off public lighting for part of the night. A sobriety bonus is given to all those who register on a carpooling platform. And businesses close their doors when the heat – or air conditioning – is turned on.
As a result, gas consumption in France fell in October 2022: 19 GWh compared to 30 GWh in October 2021. Perhaps above all an effect of more than mild weather. On the electricity side, it seems that a trend is emerging. A drop in consumption of more than 7% was observed in October. It could stand at 6.5% for the month of November 2022 compared to the period 2014-2019.
Less money for fossil fuels
Fossil energies. They are the ones who are harming our climate. And activists shouted it at COP27: “Financing fossil fuels is financing death.”
The good news in this regard is that a year ago, on the occasion of COP26, 24 countries and public actors, including France, pledged to stop financing mining projects and gas, oil and coal production. And this from this year 2022. Actually, things are not so clear. France had already put an end to the financing of the exploitation of coal and unconventional hydrocarbons in 2020. For gas and oil, this will happen from 1.eh January 2023. Unless the projects relate to power plants that could be used for the energy transition of the developing countries…
Several major global investors have also decided to no longer invest in certain major fossil fuels. But in e.g. In China, over the past six years, the banks have invested around 24 billion euros in China Energy, one of the companies that emits the most CO2.2 in the world.
The end of advertising for climate skeptics
This is one of the really good news of the year. The decision taken by Google and YouTube to tighten their rules against advertising and even more broadly against content which denies the reality of climate change and its causes. No more climate skeptic ads. Also gone is the ability to monetize content that contradicts the established scientific consensus on the subject.
Finland, CO2-neutral from 2035
Finland adopted an ambitious climate-energy strategy to say the least in the summer of 2022. The country thus aims for CO2 neutrality by 2035. And even net negative by 2040. Understand that it hopes to absorb more CO22 than it emits. All this, while especially counting on electrification, wind power – both on land and at sea – and the construction of small nuclear reactors (SMR). But will the roadmap be sustainable as logging appears to be increasing in the country’s forests, putting Finland’s biggest carbon sink at risk?
Revenge of the Windmills
It is more of a symbol than really good news. The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) announced a few months ago that for the first time on March 29, 2022, wind turbines produced more electricity in the US than coal and nuclear power combined. It must be said that the wind blew hard that day. And some coal or nuclear generators were shut down. But it’s a step further…
Hope for biodiversity in Europe
In 2013, researchers reported on the development of mammal populations in Europe since 1960. At the end of 2022, an update of these data gives us reason to be optimistic. The efforts of recent years are beginning to bear fruit. Reintroduction programs, legal protection measures, restoration of natural habitats have made it possible to increase the number and distribution of several species “keys” . Those that are essential for the proper functioning of ecosystems such as wolves, otters or beavers. The areas in which the latter is active have thus increased by 835% since 1955. While its labor force has increased by 16,000%!
The good figures of French nuclear power
We are not talking here about figures for French nuclear production. What interests us about this year 2022 is its carbon footprint.
A study has just shown that French power plants are only responsible for the emission of 4 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour produced. That’s so much less than coal and gas. And even less than sun and wind.
The price of solar energy is collapsing
Over the past ten years, the cost of solar has dropped by almost 85% and for wind by around 55%.
Today, the prices of these two renewable energies are approaching the prices of nuclear power “historic”– which is around two to three times less than for new nuclear, according to the Court of Auditors. And already in most major industrialized countries, solar energy is cheaper than coal and gas.
Germany without coal in 2030
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of this year 2022, Germany has been walking on eggshells. Determined to get out of nuclear power as quickly as possible, it had initially planned to reopen a few coal-fired power plants to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports. Although a decision has been made to extend the activity of certain coal-fired power plants until the spring of 2024, the government has announced that the country will phase out coal in 2030. This is eight years earlier than it was first decided. This is expected to save 280 million tonnes of CO22.
Meanwhile, the last three nuclear power plants still operating in the country will continue to operate, at least until spring. What must be avoided, also there, a massive use of an extremely emitting coal.