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This content is taken from the EIT InnoEnergy, Homuork & Smartgrid.cat's online course, Smart Grids for Smart Cities: Towards Zero Emissions. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds The history of civilizations can be described through the use of energy resources and related-technologies. Since fire was discovered, humanity has undertaken an incremental use of energy and power. One cannot understand the Egyptian Empire without the power of the slaves who built up the pyramids, or the communities around the Mediterranean coast of 3.000 years ago without sailing boats. Indeed, the history of war shows the dominion of cultures that had access to more powerful weapons. Within this context, fossil fuel has been the most important energy resource for the past 200 years.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds And through the transformation and domestication of the thermal-engine technology stream engine, internal combustion engine, … societies have increased dramatically their development in terms of population, agricultural productivity and wellness, among others. This is the “great acceleration” period.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 seconds This easy and cheap access to energy and power, has forged in the past decades the idea that “progress remains tied to an increased use of energy”. However, energy can neither be created nor destroyed (Law of Conservation of Energy) and in any energy transformation, a part of the available energy is no longer able for developing work (Second Law of Thermodynamics). This is the reason why due to fossil fuel combustion

Skip to 1 minute and 39 seconds there is a waste that has been accumulating in the atmosphere: CO2. The concentration has reached an unprecedented level in human history. Never in our timeline the Earth has achieved such levels of CO2 as those of today. The impact of this fact has changed the geological registers of the Earth

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second and this is why our period is so-called: the Anthropogenic Era.

Skip to 2 minutes and 10 seconds The scientific evidence of the Climate Change is now on the agenda worldwide. The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Since then, the United Nations have organised an annual Conference of Parties (COP). In November 2015, the COP21 took place, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, and its aim was to achieve for the first time a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, by which to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aimed to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 seconds In order to reach such ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced building capacity are to be put in place, as a support to the actions of the most vulnerable countries, and in line with their own national objectives. The Paris Agreement is considered an advance, but some criticism has risen arguing that the situation is critical and that it should have been more ambitious. This might be right according to scientists, but it cannot be denied that this agreement represents an inflection point. Indeed, six months before COP21, the G7 agreed in Germany to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the 21st Century.

Skip to 3 minutes and 46 seconds There is no room to discuss about an energy transition to a low carbon economy anymore. The question is, in any case, the pace of the transition. This is a game-changer. Even the International Energy Agency considers in its World Energy Outlook 2016 that the Paris Agreement is at the heart of upcoming energy policies.

The threat of energy and the limits of resources

Fossil fuels have been the most important energy resource for the past 200 years, and it’s time to shift towards a low carbon economy. In this video, professor Pep Salas will present the narrative and the evidence explaining the urgency for a new energy production and consumption model, which will be seen in detail later in the course.

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This video is from the free online course:

Smart Grids for Smart Cities: Towards Zero Emissions

EIT InnoEnergy