Trudna droga do dekarbonizacji gospodarki


  • Jan Kozłowski członek rzeczywisty PAN, Instytut Nauk o Środowisku Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego

Słowa kluczowe:

global emissions, decarbonizing the energy sector, decarbonizing transportation, decarbonizing industry, decarbonizing heating and cooling, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, impact of the war in Ukraine on decarbonization


Global emissions have already reached a monstrous amount of 37 Gt of CO2 per year, and the content of this gas in the atmosphere, which is 50% higher than in pre-industrial times, and other greenhouse gases is changing the climate, causing enormous risks for humanity. A complete decarbonization of the economy is essential. Currently, China, the US and the European Union as a whole emit the most, but the US and EU countries bear the greatest responsibility for the carbon dioxide already accumulated in the atmosphere. They are high GDP countries, so they have a moral obligation to help poorer countries decarbonize their economies. Most urgent is the decarbonization of the energy sector, which has a huge, if not the largest, share of emissions. In addition, decarbonizing other sectors will significantly increase demand for electricity. Fortunately, methods to decarbonize this sector are technically mature – only RES and nuclear power should remain. The only problems are time and money. Decarbonization of transportation is proceeding faster than expected, through electromobility and the somewhat slower deployment of hydrogen fuel cells. More difficult is the decarbonization of industry, as the technologies are immature, although research in this direction has intensified greatly recently. Decarbonization of heating and cooling is a challenge not because there is a lack of methods to solve the problem, but because the scale of the undertaking is huge, especially since buildings have a long life span, and it is not always easy to change the heating in existing buildings. Despite the tremendous acceleration, it appears that the complete decarbonization of the economy by 2050, which is recommended by the IPCC to keep average temperature increases within a reasonably safe range, may not succeed. It will therefore be necessary to remove a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which can be done either by capturing the gas and storing it, or by natural forces. One possibility is to accelerate the weathering of magmatic rocks, which would require grinding huge amounts of basalt and distributing it in soil over large areas. Action could also be taken to make forests store more CO2. The war in Ukraine may reduce the rate of decarbonization on a very short time scale, but it is expected to accelerate the process. Politicians have realized how dangerous dependence on fossil fuels, especially their imports, is. In addition, energy prices, which are of such great concern to everyone now, would be much lower if the power industry was much more RES-based, as wind and photovoltaic currently provide the cheapest energy. There is no return to coal-based energy, and Polish politicians making such demands are acting against the Polish raison d'etat.