Net Zero, Gross Delusion

World government and business leaders sound committed to meaningful reduction of carbon emissions.

This is delusional.

The world economy is about 79% dependent on fossil energy. Substitution with non-fossil energy cannot happen fast enough to both reduce emissions and sustain present levels of economic activity and growth. Fossil fuels cannot be abandoned because production of non-fossil energy requires substantial carbon use.

For those who think that transport is the main use of internal combustion engines, think again. Of the 165 million internal combustion engines manufactured in 2020, less than half (78 million) were for automotive use. Agriculture, manufacturing, power generation, forestry and construction accounted for the other 53%.

For all of the net-zero emphasis on EVs, the transportation sector accounted for only 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 (Figure 1). The industrial sector was the greatest source at 29% followed closely by agricultural at 28% and residential-commercial at 18%.

Figure 1. Transportation accounted for 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. Source: World Resources Institute, Our World in Data & Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

Energy is a system. A path to lower global emissions cannot be found by attacking one of two components without considering the state and inter-relationships of those to other parts of the system.

Energy consumption is unquestionably the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels are the source of 79% of the world’s energy. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that fossil energy is the biggest emission problem. It is, however, unreasonable to assume that this problem can be solved by substituting different energy types for fossil energy.

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