The energy transition as a key for a sustainable future
By Attilio Di Sabato
The consequences of climate change are increasingly evident in the eyes of world public opinion, especially the younger generations, who perceive the climate problem as real and are clamouring through environmental associations and movements for immediate action and a real ecological transition.
The transition aims to change the current socio-economic model, which sees economic development as a consequence of infinite growth, totally disconnected from the context in which it takes place: the Earth. The environment is considered a marginal, or even external, factor in the scheme.
If the objective is to change an entire socio-economic model, then action can only be integral, multi-level, and cross-sectoral. Within the ecological transition, the energy transition plays a major role. The energy sector is essential to all economic activity and must be the starting point for achieving climate neutrality as quickly as possible.
In the “Sustainable Development” scenario developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the percentage of electricity produced using renewable sources should be around 59% to meet the Paris Climate Agreement. However, a “Business as Usual”(BAU) scenario would currently be around 49%.
Replacing fossil energy sources with renewable energy sources to cut CO2 emissions that pollute the environment, damage health, and alter the climate. Scholars also speak of a shift from ‘high carbon economies’ to ‘low carbon economies’.
Most renewables produce mainly electricity, so maximising the use of renewable energy requires electrification of economic and everyday activities: from cooking to residential electric heating, from public transport to private cars.
The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is characterising the fourth industrial revolution and is also being applied to energy. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud systems, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is possible to monitor and manage large amounts of data (Big Data) that enable energy efficiency and intelligent energy use.
These three aspects together drive the ongoing energy transition: only their full implementation will successfully conclude this process, allowing future generations to live in a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment.
Although, as already mentioned, the energy transition is fundamental to a true ecological transition, before these aspects it is necessary to mark the “first transition” from which everything started: the cultural one. A change of perspective that has placed man no longer as the master of the planet, but as a guest on it, on a par with other living beings.
Achieving the energy transition, therefore, means saving our common home.