There is only one problem with these electrification strategies
… it’s their “Business as Usual” foundation.
A recent article declares that The Climate Revolution Will be Electric, and that this will happen by overcoming the following challenges (emphasis mine):
- On the supply side: make all electricity clean… . End burning fossil fuels for energy.
- On the demand side: electrify everything you can.
- Stop investing in committed emissions. Every time we retire a fossil fuel-burning machine, we need to replace it with a decarbonized one. Power plants, cars, and trucks, HVAC systems, stoves, roofs, etc.
- [Make the all-renewable electricity sector] reliable 24/7/365.
- Take personal responsibility: “As citizens demand the changes we need from our elected leaders. As consumers, don’t worry about small decisions too much but get the big ones right“
- Corporate Responsibility.
Executive summary: Business as usual, folks
I mostly agree with four of those six strategies. The third and fifth one, however, really seem to me just another, greenwashed but still unfeasible version of “The American Way of Life Is Not Negotiable. Period” of thirty years ago.
If you are not convinced, just look at how those two strategies are explained (emphasis mine, again):
“Climate strategy isn’t about sacrifice or deprivation and certainly not “degrowth”. It’s about making large-scale investments right away that not only address climate but also get the country on track for stronger economic growth, better health outcomes, a cleaner environment, and a plethora of great new sustainable jobs.”
“As consumers, don’t worry about small decisions too much but get the big ones right: your next car should be electric, your next roof repair should add solar, you should turn your home into a big battery that can provide power to the grid.”
Business as usual, that is. Just unfeasible
Let’s begin with was already obvious more than half a century ago, well before that other quote: what unexplicably continues to pass for “economic growth” that is growth of GDP, was a really stupid idea 50 years ago, is even stupider today, and above all would remain stupid even if there were no climate crisis:
If that were not enough, there is the little problem of physical limits (again: regardless of climate, or ecology in general!).
If half the concerns about the world not having enough raw materials, fossil fuels and energy in general that could still be profitably taken off the ground or moved back and forth did not exist…
That is if, to make just a few examples:
- there were enough lithium to make enough batteries to make certain strategies feasible -it were physically and economically feasible to convert enough cars and homes to power enough of the grid, soon enough
- there were enough space to allow cars to keep existing as a MASS, DAILY transport system
Then yes, no problem.
If none of those issues existed, it would indeed become physically and geopolitically feasible to replace all the ” fossil fuel-burning machines [i.e. ALL] Power plants, cars, and trucks, HVAC systems, stoves, roofs, etc [of TODAY]” with the same number of the same things, just electric.
If none of those issues existed, every owner of a car or a single-family home with disposable income left could follow advice like “make your next car electric, turn your home into a big battery”.
As reality stands today, instead… first, most people who don’t fit that profile today may never become part of the mass market that certain strategies would need to function IF they were feasible.
Second, I have a strong feeling that in the next years a non-negligible number of people who do fit that profile today will find advice like “move to an apartment building properly served by public transit” much more interesting, if not the only alternative still affordable, than “keep owning a car and a single-family home”. What will happen of certain strategies then?
Image source: Electrification of transport in the EU key to achieving carbon targets, (2019)
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