Picture this: An European conference. 150+ countries eager to deal with climate change. Urgency. Confident leaders. Months of intense talks. High expectations.
Bleak picture indeed. This was Oslo 2007. Negotiators came out empty-handed. No agreement. No way so many countries could agree to take painful measures on a problem politicians could easily ignore. After Olso, governments and industry returned to business as usual. Environmentalists marked 2007 as the year humanity lost the opportunity to stop catastrophe.
Now picture this. Another European conference. 200+ countries eager to deal with climate change. Urgency. Confident leaders. Months of intense talks. Been there, done that?
The was Paris 2015. What changed?
INNOVATION AS A DEAL-MAKER
Would you agree to a deal that makes you poorer?
That’s exactly how small countries felt in 2007. Back then, governments faced the unattractive prospect of cutting their use of hydrocarbon fuels and see their economic growth shrink. Simply stated, there were no credible alternatives to make up for the loss of energy from coal and oil. Alternative sources of energy were simply not deemed worthy horses in the energy race. To nobody’s surprise, the Oslo treaty was DOA – you simply can’t sign a treaty on good intentions.
Paris was different. This time, countries of all sides saw alternatives to carbon-based energy sources that didn’t represent painful compromises. Committing to the aggressive carbon emission goals required by the treaty was no longer seen as a road to economic anxiety. In the seven years between the two conferences innovators have worked hard to provide the energy alternatives that made the Paris Agreement possible. Solar panel installations soared, wind grew exponentially and innovative entrepreneurs in many industries made the promise of a clean planet possible. Even on the consumer front, innovation led the way to a no-compromise everyday living – think Tesla then and Tesla now.
But the transformative change that the world is looking for is still elusive. Take together, clean sources of energy amount to a significant change, but not one can take on hydrocarbons and make them finally obsolete (after all, they’ve ruled for 100 years).
Until very few years ago, extracting oil and gas was an easy job. Find the source, dig a hole, pump it out or carve it off of the ground and ship it. That’s the reason these energy sources were universally adopted. They were cheap, reliable and plentiful.
Fast forward to the new century. Easy-to-mine sources became more difficult to find and the countries that had the most reserves also had the most unstable governments. Fracking, one of the most earth-damaging extraction methods ever devised, had to be invented to squeeze oil and gas out of rocks and sands. Political instability cut off entire countries like Iran and Venezuela, two of the top oil producers. And the economies of China and India grew so much that pollution from coal and oil became unsustainable. Just in the past month, China has implemented, for the first time ever, two days of “Red Alert” in its capital – making it toxic to breath outdoors without a mask.
MEET HYDROGEN 2.0
Breaking the century-old monopoly that dirty hydrocarbons have enjoyed can only be done by tapping on a source of plentiful energy that is clean, and as affordable as oil and gas were in the past. In the last decade, visionaries have worked to make the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen, a worthy contender to replace carbon-based fuels to power everything from cars to cities.
We call this the era of Hydrogen 2.0
This is what’s in store…