“UN Report: Transition to Clean Energy Sources Lags, Despite Past Success Stories”

"UN Report: Transition to Clean Energy Sources Lags, Despite Past Success Stories"

In 2022, 82% of the world’s energy was supplied by the burning of fossil fuels. A recent assessment from the United Nations indicates progress in transitioning to cleaner energy sources, but not enough. Energy transitions have happened before, from the use of human and animal muscle to wind and water, and then to hydrocarbon-based fuels like coal, gas, and oil.

Early energy transitions saw the shift from reliance on wood and charcoal to coal in Britain due to extensive deforestation. Coal then gradually took over the global market, followed by the emergence of oil as an energy source, prompted by America’s exploitation of its reserves, primarily as an alternate to expensive whaling oil.

Past energy transitions also witnessed a shift from natural sources like water flows to the use of steam engines, driven by the industrial revolution. Despite the increase in manual labour required with the mining of coal, such shifts were dictated by capitalist motivations, such as centralised control of workers. The historical exploitation of labour in energy transitions is still seen today as gross disparities persist between employers and workers.

Historically, energy transitions are gradual and uneven, influenced by available resources and market forces. With time running out due to accelerating climate change, it is vital to overcome resistances by old energy groups like fossil fuel corporations. The free sunlight and wind powering solar panels and turbines are heralding the current energy transition.

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