hurricane aftermath Cedrick Isham Calvados/Getty Images

打断气候变化

丹佛—在美国经历了创纪录的飓风季,亚洲经历了泛滥的洪水季之后,我们很容易对气候变化的不断加速感到绝望。然而,尽管末日预兆频现,我们仍然能够实现规模足够大、速度足够快的能源转型,从而遏制全球气温的升高。更妙的是,我们不需要坐等新发明的出现来落实我们所需要的变化;转型可以立刻开始,由企业提供受市场推动的有利可图的方案。

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将全球升温幅度限制在前工业水平以上2℃以内,这是2015年巴黎气候协定所制定的目标。实现这一目标需要减少化石燃料依赖,改变农作物种植、木材采伐和土地使用的方式。落基山研究所(RMI)的新研究表明,这两个结果都是可行的,它们所形成的合力可以“积极地”打断气候变化的进程。

根据我们的研究,如果未来的能源供给和需求,以及森林和土地储存碳元素的方式,能够遵循一定的方法,就能大大降低变暖的速度。通过加快已经开始的清洁能源转型,有望将温室气体排放量降低到当前消费模式所隐含的水平之下。

这一情景并不像有些人想象的那样遥远。世界已经开始了朝向清洁能源、电力驱动和更加智能的电力和土地使用系统的转变,其速度之快超出了任何人——包括专家在内——的预测。

而这不是第一次发生变化速度超过预期的情况。比如,1980年,美国电话电报公司聘请麦肯锡公司对二十年内美国移动电话使用数量进行预测。麦肯锡的顾问预测,到2000年,美国移动电话市场规模将达到900,000台左右。事实上,2000年有超过一亿台移动电话被售出。如今,地球上的移动电话数量比其人口还要多

太阳能和风能也经历过类似的错误预测。几十年来,国际原子能机构和美国能源情报署(US Energy Information Agency)的专家们无不低估了来自这些资源的供给会以多快速度增长。他们的猜测总是低估,并且每年只是略微向上调整预测,从来没能跟上现实进度。但随着清洁能源企业不断创新,利用风能和太阳能的生产成本不断下降。能源变得更加廉价,用途则随之增加。政府模型通常无法抓住类似的回报递增现象。

低估当今能源转型的另一个原因是其规模与此前几次新技术转换有所不同。人们从烧木材到烧煤,再从烧煤到烧石油,“新”能源资源都来自规模非常巨大的资本项目,如煤矿、离岸油气田、炼油厂等。部署这些项目成本高昂,并且要转嫁到消费者头上。

相反,在今天的能源市场中,消费者拥有更大的控制权。想想看,在屋顶安装太阳能板是多么方便,只需要一天就能完成。数百万小机器——光伏电池、风力涡轮、电池和智能电器——推动着今天的能源转型。在这个分布式系统中,每个新设备都很廉价并且很快能够产生回报,因此实验成本很低,技术也能迅速得到改进。结果是给全球竞争者带来了巨大的竞争舞台,产生更快的创新和新业务模式,达到规模经济。

清洁能源革命的硬件与移动电话和笔记本电脑,而不是矿山和炼油厂更加相近。它们可以在所有大型市场中出售,具备可扩展生产链和仍在不断成熟中的技术,因此,向更加清洁的电力的转型的速度比许多专家的预测都要快。

尽管如此,即使是迅速实现“更加绿色”的能源转变,也不足以让全球平均气温限定在前工业化水平以上2℃以内。要想实现这个目标,世界还需要让更多温室气体离开大气层。

幸运的是,这也是可能的。在农业和土地保护中纳入减碳策略,就能将更多导致温室效应的气体锁定在森林和土壤中。然而,尽管这些技术已经存在,但要想取得成功,还需要推广免耕农业,采用永续栽种原则,加强湿地管理,使用轮牧技术等。

推动能源和土地使用发生重大变化的市场力量很强,但2017年风暴季提醒我们,我们所面临的气候紧迫性需要我们采取强力紧急行动。改变人们获取和消费能源以及使用土地的方式需要很强的激励和政策框架推动成功。

但也不要绝望:我们仍有时间拯救我们的气候。转型已经开始——并且将以比大部分人预料的更快的速度展开。

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