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Енергията и околната среда - доброто, злото и неволята

We ask energy and environment expert, Jason Blackstock, how he sees changes in the area, whether they are a cause for optimism and where he sees the potential flashpoints.

Energy and the environment:

the good, the bad and the worrying

What are

the most significant changes

in energy's effect

on the environment?

One of the big changes

we have seen in the last 5 years,

is the serious exploitation

of what I have termed new carbon,

but is essentially

unconventional fossil fuels.

The shale gas revolution,

as it is referred to in the US,

has had major impacts,

not only for the mixture of energy

resources that the US is using,

with potential implications

for energy security in the long run.

There are now projections

that the shale gas available

to the US may be equivalent

to the sort of resources

available to Saudi Arabia.

If that's the case, it radically

rewrites geopolitics of energy.

How much progress has been made

in cutting greenhouse gases?

In the US, for example, we have

seen a significant shift away

from using coal

towards burning natural gas,

in order to produce electricity.

What does this mean?

Because natural gas

releases half the carbon

per unit energy produced

as coal does,

we have seen the greenhouse

gas emissions of the US

dropped by 7 per cent

in the last 5 years alone.

They're now emitting roughly

the same that they were in 1992.

America has been

one of the leaders

in reducing

its greenhouse gas emissions,

but for none climate reasons.

It's purely the energy transition.

Is this being tackled

in a global or a regional way?

While carbon dioxide is certainly

the most dominant influence

on the climate system,

we also emit other things.

We emit methane, tropospheric

ozone, sulphate, black carbon,

and I can keep going on,

all of these things have impacts

which are increasingly local.

So, carbon dioxide goes up

and it stays up for a hundred years.

Black carbon is soot. It goes up

and it comes down within a few days

and a few hundred kilometers.

When that happens, the consequence

of the climate change

that these induce,

are much more local and regional.

As individual regions start to try

and manage their local pollution

with a climate goal in mind,

you see the potential

for tensions between:

I want to manage it one way

because I want

the precipitation falling here,

the sheds releasing water

on this side of the Himalayas,

versus: I want the precipitation

falling in different regions

and water sheds there.

I have been in China recently

doing research and conversations

around their expanding

weather modification programme

and that has potential implications

along the short-lived

climate forces discussion

and many countries could start

seeing these sorts of approaches

as national climate strategies,

as opposed to being reliant

on some global treaty

to deal with issues.

What does this mean for security?

Once you open

that Pandora's Box:

We're going to have

more of an impact on the system

to try and steer a particular outcome,

it really leads

to some very open questions,

not even the philosophical ones

of should humanity

be trying to engineer the planet.

Even without those,

the 'politique' questions

about who's going to set

where the thermostat should be

or where the precipitation

pattern should go, or...

Those sorts of questions will have

very real security implications.

And with sort of the regional dynamic

of conversations about climate,

the emergence of geo-engineering

technologies is happening

at the same time that nations are

starting to feel the impacts of climate

and so you end up with

a nationalization or regionalization

at the same time

as tools are being developed

that could have real global leverage

for low financial investment.

There is really

important tensions there

that we had better be appreciating

as we are working

towards a collaborative framework

for dealing with climate change.

Energy and the environment:

the good, the bad and the worrying

What are

the most significant changes

in energy's effect

on the environment?

One of the big changes

we have seen in the last 5 years,

is the serious exploitation

of what I have termed new carbon,

but is essentially

unconventional fossil fuels.

The shale gas revolution,

as it is referred to in the US,

has had major impacts,

not only for the mixture of energy

resources that the US is using,

with potential implications

for energy security in the long run.

There are now projections

that the shale gas available

to the US may be equivalent

to the sort of resources

available to Saudi Arabia.

If that's the case, it radically

rewrites geopolitics of energy.

How much progress has been made

in cutting greenhouse gases?

In the US, for example, we have

seen a significant shift away

from using coal

towards burning natural gas,

in order to produce electricity.

What does this mean?

Because natural gas

releases half the carbon

per unit energy produced

as coal does,

we have seen the greenhouse

gas emissions of the US

dropped by 7 per cent

in the last 5 years alone.

They're now emitting roughly

the same that they were in 1992.

America has been

one of the leaders

in reducing

its greenhouse gas emissions,

but for none climate reasons.

It's purely the energy transition.

Is this being tackled

in a global or a regional way?

While carbon dioxide is certainly

the most dominant influence

on the climate system,

we also emit other things.

We emit methane, tropospheric

ozone, sulphate, black carbon,

and I can keep going on,

all of these things have impacts

which are increasingly local.

So, carbon dioxide goes up

and it stays up for a hundred years.

Black carbon is soot. It goes up

and it comes down within a few days

and a few hundred kilometers.

When that happens, the consequence

of the climate change

that these induce,

are much more local and regional.

As individual regions start to try

and manage their local pollution

with a climate goal in mind,

you see the potential

for tensions between:

I want to manage it one way

because I want

the precipitation falling here,

the sheds releasing water

on this side of the Himalayas,

versus: I want the precipitation

falling in different regions

and water sheds there.

I have been in China recently

doing research and conversations

around their expanding

weather modification programme

and that has potential implications

along the short-lived

climate forces discussion

and many countries could start

seeing these sorts of approaches

as national climate strategies,

as opposed to being reliant

on some global treaty

to deal with issues.

What does this mean for security?

Once you open

that Pandora's Box:

We're going to have

more of an impact on the system

to try and steer a particular outcome,

it really leads

to some very open questions,

not even the philosophical ones

of should humanity

be trying to engineer the planet.

Even without those,

the 'politique' questions

about who's going to set

where the thermostat should be

or where the precipitation

pattern should go, or...

Those sorts of questions will have

very real security implications.

And with sort of the regional dynamic

of conversations about climate,

the emergence of geo-engineering

technologies is happening

at the same time that nations are

starting to feel the impacts of climate

and so you end up with

a nationalization or regionalization

at the same time

as tools are being developed

that could have real global leverage

for low financial investment.

There is really

important tensions there

that we had better be appreciating

as we are working

towards a collaborative framework

for dealing with climate change.

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