Under the Threat of Climate Change: Fuel Cells Support Decarbonization Efforts
Whatever words are used to describe climate change, global warming, natural disasters – the negative impact is inescapable. The New York Times recently reported that 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record, the five warmest years in recorded history have been the last five, and that 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001. This rapid warming is associated with extreme weather conditions whose economic costs are devastating. In the U.S. in 2017 alone, disasters inflicted a record breaking $306 billion of damage.
The rising frequency of wildfires, hurricanes, floods, droughts and other extreme weather events demands emergency response measures, public attention and budgets worldwide. In these unhappy circumstances, the report issued by the UN Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018 warning governments around the world to take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming came as no great surprise.
Source: NASA | By The New York Times
The IPCC report indicates that urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target of limiting global warming to between 1.5C and 2C degrees in temperature to reduce the intensity and frequency of extreme events and their negative impact on resources, ecosystems, biodiversity, food security, cities, tourism and carbon removal. Already in the few months since the publication of the report, numerous extreme weather events around the globe continue to prove the accuracy of the dire report.
In February 2019 an editorial published in the New York Times by David Wallace-Wells, author of the forthcoming “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming”, notes that globally emissions are still growing, and that the time we have to avert catastrophic warming is shrinking by the day. The longer we wait to start a broad decarbonization effort to overhaul our energy systems, building and transportation infrastructure and other systems powered by carbon fuels, the more difficult it will be. The longer we take to reduce emissions, the greater will be the damages caused by global warming, and the higher the financial impact.
Mr. Wallace-Wells laments the enormity of the problem and how difficult it is for humans to grasp, accept and proactively carry out the huge changes required to mitigate the impacts of global warming. The aggressive global response needed from governments as well as from private businesses to prevent further disaster is not easy, but the severe weather events we continue to experience demonstrate clearly that it is mandatory and urgent. This makes the role of the business leaders promoting technologies that eradicate carbon emissions and produce clean energy increasingly crucial.
Turning Back Time – How can fuel cells be part of the solution to Global Warming
So the big question is how do we best go about implementing the IPCC report’s recommendations to drastically lower carbon dioxide emissions while our industries and economies go about their business, consuming power at growing rates? Because fuel cells can produce large-scale energy efficiently and indefinitely with minimal pollutants and carbon emissions, they promise to be an extremely effective component in fighting the battle against climate change; the sooner they can be implemented, the faster we can reduce emissions and the global temperature incline.
Advances in hydrogen-based fuel cell technologies are bringing to market increasingly reliable, eco-friendly solutions that are becoming more competitively-priced and readily available around the world. Hydrogen-based fuel cell technology today powers all types of vehicles, material handling equipment and means of transportation, as well as numerous stationary power consumers, from electronic devices to industrial equipment of every size and type. Moreover, the increasing investment by private businesses around the globe in hydrogen-based fuel cell technologies is driving successful commercial implementations that demonstrate significant value. They not only mitigate the impact of climate change but also achieve many other tangible financial and operational benefits.
Today fuel cells are keeping operations going for retail merchandisers, data centers, manufacturing sites and many other commercial facilities. They produce power on-demand and on-site, even in tough climate conditions. In the last decade, increasing investment in fuel cell research and development has evolved fuel cell technologies to cover ever broader applications and to generate and store energy in greater volumes while minimizing carbon emissions. The sooner and more broadly that these technologies can be implemented, the better our chances of reducing the devastating impacts of climate change. Although it is difficult, and even counterintuitive, for us as a society to proactively induce systemic change to the global energy economy, it is nevertheless imperative. We urge our colleagues across the hydrogen
industry and our customers across all industries to join together to accelerate efforts and put in place the eco-friendly infrastructure that will minimize the impact of global warming and protect the global environment.
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