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In 2019, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three scientists for the development of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that, according to the Academy, have laid the foundation for a fossil fuel-free economy. Li-ion batteries can safely store large amounts of energy, ensuring stable and predictable flows of electricity even in decentralized immobile (i.e., stationary) or mobile modes in remote areas. The increasing popularity of passenger electric vehicles and electric buses is largely a result of the capacity improvement of Li-ion batteries and significant price declines due to investment in productive capacity.
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It is the urgent and inescapable mandate for the entire humanity to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to mitigate climate change and build a fossil fuel-free economy. As examined below, the utility and transport sectors have been the two major emitters of GHGs and, without reducing GHGs from these two sectors, the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 C cannot be achieved. Li-ion batteries have been a promising clean technology because the battery stores energy in its cells, as opposed to generating energy by combusting fossil fuels in a gasoline and diesel engine, to power a vehicle or provide electricity to a building (see box 1 for the capability of Li-ion batteries). When batteries are recharged with fossil fuel-free electricity, Li-ion batteries fully contribute to a fossil fuel-free economy.
To mitigate climate change and create a fossil fuel-free economy, the global community has agreed that GHG emissions must be reduced rapidly and significantly.1 Human activities have emitted about 50 billion tons of GHGs (CO2 equivalent) at the global level every year from the mid-2010s, in which the electricity and heat sector is the dominant emitter, followed by transport, manufacturing and agricultural sectors (figure 1).
Energy storage plays a key role in the transition to renewable sources of electricity, though the importance depends on the appropriate mix of renewable and clean energy sources (Ratz et al., 2020). As the combined cost of renewable energy generation and battery storage becomes competitive with conventional energy sources, electrical utilities will be able to replace larger portions of current electricity sources with carbon-free alternatives. This is an important point as replacing traditional vehicles with electric vehicles for environmental sustainability also requires a clean source of electricity with which to charge the batteries.
Electric vehicles and storage systems have become more competitive alternatives to conventional vehicles and stationary energy installations. But there are still technical, economic and environmental challenges that the global community as a whole has to address in order to build a fossil fuel-free economy. This last section considers the role of governments in promoting the uptake of Li-ion batteries to build a fossil fuel-free economy (see figure 9).
Lithium-ion batteries have indeed become the critical pillar for building a fossil fuel-free economy. The batteries can safely store energy for mobile and stationary use and ensure stable and uninterrupted flows of energy even when solar or wind power is used. But, to maximize their contributions, energy should be produced in a fossil-free manner. Governments and the international community are required to help advance more powerful and affordable Li-ion batteries, promote their use and create the closed-loop recycling system.
The Clean Energy Revolution podcast explores our energy systems as we move towards a net zero world. In this particular episode, Max La Manna takes a look at how utilising technology and innovation will help contribute towards a fossil-free future.
There are two things that generally matter most to people interested in fossil free investing: investing less in fossil fuels and other environmentally and socially harmful business models, and financial returns. So how do you know which funds check both boxes?
If you want to drill down further into tools, we now have a monthly spreadsheet available for download provided with our methodology that includes the list of companies we screen funds for, and the list of funds tracked by our tools, including their ESG grades and financial performance data.
These new features are designed to make it easier for you to find the funds that best match your values and your investing circumstances. Moving your money is your power. Fossil Free Funds can help get you there. Get started today at fossilfreefunds.org.
The RFI, issued in conjunction with the General Services Administration, comes on the heels of Executive Order 14057, "Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability," signed by President Joe Biden on December 8, 2021. The EO directs the federal government to shift electricity purchases to carbon pollution-free electricity to reduce its contribution to climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions. CFE includes a range of power sources, including renewable energy like solar, wind and hydropower as well as nuclear energy and fossil fuel power plants that capture and store carbon dioxide emissions.
Lawmakers passed ambitious legislation this week that will reshape the state's energy sector by mandating that the state's publicly regulated utilities get all of their electricity from carbon-free sources like solar and wind by 2045.
Many investment funds are unwilling to consider life with a fossil-free portfolio. They prefer to dismiss divestment based on an unfounded fear of financial loss and a willingness to embrace unproven solutions from the fossil fuel industry, grasping for a past that cannot return. This is a significant fiduciary lapse. At this stage of its evolution, climate change and the current market responses to it require sober consideration of a fully divested portfolio. Fiduciaries can opt for different investment strategies to address climate risk, but without a plan that fully articulates a fossil-free portfolio, those strategies are devoid of a sound fiduciary basis for investment decision-making.
Each of the six articles highlighted on this page provides a detailed look at aspects of the net-zero transition. The full report, The net-zero transition: What it would cost, what it could bring, as well as a PDF summary, can be downloaded for free here. 041b061a72