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The silver lining in Europe's energy crisis as brutal summer begins
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Regions plagued by persistent drought have been inundated this spring by torrential rains, bringing deadly floods and mudslides — including this week to the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix scheduled for this weekend has been called off. Photo: Camber Sports F1/Twitter.
In a month where the largest heatwave in memory hit Asia and Canadian wildfires are shutting down vast parts of Alberta and sending oil prices higher, Europe had been relatively unscathed — until deadly flooding shut down the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.
It’s a devastating economic blow to Italy, a horrible loss of life, and a reminder that even our cherished sports are subject to the ravages of global warming. It’s also the beginning of what is expected to be a brutally hot and wet summer in Europe, which is still reeling from the energy crisis brought on by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Yet the sky-high energy prices across the continent have finally begun to fulfill the predictions of many who said last year that Russia’s invasion would ultimately yield benefits as it would speed up the transition to renewable energy in Europe. Bloomberg reports that power from fossil fuels in Europe is down 16% from last year as renewables have taken up the slack, and emissions so far this year are at levels not seen since the Covid lockdowns of 2020. The lower emissions also come as factories and companies reduce energy usage because of high prices.
That may change as air conditioners are flicked on this summer to combat what scientists expect to be one of the worst heat years in history, but it is an encouraging sign that the renewable energy transition is making progress despite the rush to fossil fuels after the invasion last year.
Investors take note. Oil and gas may be with us for a long while yet, but as cheaper renewables come on to the market, simple economics will dictate a lower-emission future.
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Editor’s picks: Most Americans face higher risk of summer blackouts
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Explain that: The Paris Agreement
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Words to live by . . . .
“Everything we think about regarding sustainability — from energy to agriculture to manufacturing to population — has a water footprint. Almost all of the water on Earth is salt water, and the remaining freshwater supplies are split between agricultural use and human use — as well as maintaining the existing natural environment.” — Jamais Cascio, author and futurist.