2022 was defined by the war in Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis that showed to the world just how underprepared we were not only to let go of fossil fuels but also how our securitised and highly politicised dependence on gas and oil ultimately had massive consequences for society. Yet, 2022 saw $4 trillion made by fossil companies. 2022 showed to the world the ways that we have slowed down our progress in a post-pandemic world, but also the ways that change could be possible. 2022 was another (precious) year that came to an end in the climate discourse; so, here’s the scene it set for 2023.
Protests got more creative
People’s anger has manifested in different ways - a phenomenon that was not exclusive to the climate arena. Just Stop Oil threw soup at (protected) Van Gogh’s Sunflowers which sparked debate over the different ways that activism may look like. Mel Carrington, a spokeswoman for Just Stop Oil, said in a telephone interview with the New York Times that the group’s intention had been to generate publicity and to create debate around the climate crisis and the actions needed to stop it. Beyond this, in Iran young people led national uprising for social and political reform. In China, people took the streets in a historical protest against the zero-Covid policy.
The sun came through
Solar power grew so fast in 2022 that the IEA concluded that it could become the largest source of global electricity by 2027.
“The first truly global energy crisis, triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has sparked unprecedented momentum for renewables. Fossil fuel supply disruptions have underlined the energy security benefits of domestically generated renewable electricity, leading many countries to strengthen policies supporting renewables. Meanwhile, higher fossil fuel prices worldwide have improved the competitiveness of solar PV and wind generation against other fuels.”
As a result of this and despite the growth in coal this year, renewables are now set to double between 2022 and 2027 in comparison to the previous 5 years.
In December, Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough With Blast of 192 Lasers that could ultimately pave the way to producing limitless, zero-carbon energy. You can read more about the controversial role of nuclear energy here.
Loss and damage might be possible
The economies of several developing nations have plummeted as a result of various natural disasters that led to the displacement of thousands of people. Perhaps the only success in COP27 was the agreement to create a loss and damage fund to help developing nations cope with the irreversible economic losses and damages caused by climate change (a phenomenon largely attributed to wealthier nations’ development). In 2023 we not only expect to see the creation of the fund, but also the creation of criteria of eligibility.
Laws around the world are changing
In 2022, the Biden administration delivered a landmark law which included a $370 billion package to nudge businesses to shift to renewable energy, and made public money available for research into climate innovation. In 2023 we expect to see this money roll out and the relevant impacts of this unfold.
In Brazil, on new year's day, Lula was sworn in office. His Environment Minister, Marina Silva - a leading climate activist whose work has focused on the Amazon. Marina Silva acted as the minister for the environment in 2003-2008, and her time in office was defined by bold policies tackling deforestation with massive successes. During COP27, Lula promised zero deforestation in the Amazon.
Despite the heated geopolitical scene in 2022, political willingness to mitigate and adapt to climate change is shifting in some parts of the world, while others like the UK limp behind. We can choose to be optimistic in our expectations for 2023.