Fossil Fuels, GHG Emissions and Clean Energy Development


During the post-1970 period, there has been an impressive increase in energy consumption across the world. The primary energy consumption has increased at an annual growth rate of 2.21 per cent over this period. Energy baskets of a large number of countries remained dominated by fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

There has been an increased significance of natural gas in recent times. Similarly, the share of nuclear energy has increased over time. However, the hydro energy sources did not see much expansion in terms of their share in overall energy mix, whereas there has been a mild increase in the share of other renewable energy sources.

There has been not only the dominance of fossil fuels, viz. oil, coal and natural gas, in world energy basket over time but they have also remained largely irreplaceable. Owing to their carbon-rich nature, their burning contributed to global warming through GHG emissions.

The magnitude of CO2 emissions was 5,891.71 MtCO2e in 1951. Since then, it increased by 5.74 times. In such situation, there is a growing concern within the international community about rising GHG levels, especially CO2, because of its impact on global warming.

Owing to a large number of efforts, the developed nations, at large, are making efforts to contain their CO2 emissions. A move towards low-carbon economies is considered as a key strategy to attain this objective. In this line, a number of innovations are taking place and the development of clean energy sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, bio-fuels etc. is gaining momentum.

Still there persist various technology-related issues but at the same time, efforts are being made to bridge the gap through trade and investment financing. But, on the whole, a good progress seems to be made.

Global Significance of Asian Giants—

In Asia, there are three major economies, viz. China, India and Japan. Spread over 9.85 per cent of world’s surface area, they reside about 40 per cent of world’s population.
These Asian Giants account for a major share in world GDP. n terms of energy-related indicators, the Asian Giants are quite distinct. The reserves of fossil fuels especially oil are very limited in China and India—Japan does not have any reserve of oil and natural gas. China has a relatively large reserve of natural gas than India. Similarly, its reserve of coal is significantly large. In terms of the magnitude of primary energy consumption, the disparities are much larger. China alone accounts for 22.92 per cent of world’s total primary energy consumption. Similarly, India and Japan also account for a significant share in world total consumption of primary energy.

Inference—

Two major conclusions: First, there has been large fossil fuel dependence of the Asian Giants. Second, the effort made by the Asian Giants in not only the development of clean energy installed capacities but also the development of clean energy technologies especially by China and Japan is remarkable. India could not do much on technology fronts except than developing its installed capacities through imported equipment.


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