It is the year 2021. With the recently concluded COP26, the UN climate change conference where world leaders and governments meet to talk "climate," the apocalyptic, man-made climate crisis has most of us wondering what the future has in store for us.
It is late enough for all of us to fully understand that we absolutely cannot continue on the path we are on; and that an overhaul of the energy infrastructure is in the offing. And, more importantly, the future of energy will be what the important men and women who attend climate summits like the COP ultimately decide to do.
One of the driving forces behind the emissions and pollution is our methods of cultivating energy to sustain human life. On 4 November at "Energy Day" COP26 event, Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, made a call for action, reminding that the energy sector accounts for 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions.
So what is our energy sector made of? Mostly coal and oil, however, renewable energy is gaining momentum, albeit slowly. A cause for optimism is how technological innovation has already become a crucial discourse to understand the future of the energy sector - innovations that will lead to a "greener" infrastructure. This of course largely depends on how effectively governments, corporations and world leaders can expedite the shift to renewable and green energy.
Some of the more recent innovations in technology that alter our use of energy are: Public electric transport, energy-efficient LED light, cheap energy storage (lithium-ion batteries), accessible solar power, plastic recycling, carbon capture and storage, long term energy storage (for example, the Malta project by Google X stores renewable energy in molten salt). And not to forget the use of hydrogen energy.
Apart from technological innovations which can pave the way to renewable and sustainable sources of energy, nuclear energy has a big role to play in the future of energy discourse too due to its use causing low carbon emissions
On one of the 4 November main events at the Energy Day COP26, Rafael Grossi, the director general of the IAEA, said "Nuclear energy is part of the solution to global warming, there's no way around it." The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is one of the few vocal supporters and lobbyists of nuclear energy, which still remains as a most hotly debated topic due to geopolitical insecurities and tensions.
While the climate summits set the 2050 global net-zero emission goal, our dependence on fossil fuels remains prevalent and alarming. Perhaps by the time the 2050 goal approaches, those of us who are financially capable will jet off to Mars with Elon Musk, because that seems to be a more optimistic prospect - just an alarmist innuendo.