Paths to Sustainable Power

NEW YORK – The surest bet on the future of energy is the need for low-carbon energy supplies. Around 80% of the world’s primary energy today is carbon based: coal, oil, and gas. We will need to shift to no- or low-carbon energy by mid-century. The big questions are how and when.

Low-carbon primary energy means three options: renewable energy, including wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass; nuclear energy; and carbon capture and sequestration, which means using fossil fuels to create energy, but trapping the CO2 emissions that result and storing the carbon safely underground.

There are three compelling reasons for the world to make the shift to low-carbon energy. First, higher levels of CO2 are making the world’s oceans acidic. If we continue with business as usual, we will end up destroying a vast amount of marine life, severely damaging the food chains on which we rely.

Second, CO2 is dangerously changing the world’s climate, even if many Big Oil interests would have us believe otherwise. (So, too, did the tobacco companies spend vast sums on political lobbying and bogus science to deny the links between smoking and lung cancer.)