With wildfires, torrential floods, parched reservoirs, and other dramatic signs that the climate crisis is upon us, we would all like to flip a switch and stop our carbon emissions so that we can save the planet for our children. But in a world full of fossil-fuelled machines (and regulations that support them), it’s hard for many people to imagine the pathway to achieving net-zero emissions in time to keep global heating under 1.5–2.0 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. But that pathway can be simply stated: electrify (almost) everything.
It’s time to demystify decarbonization so that we understand what we need to do to switch our economy from one that relies on fossil fuels to one powered by clean electricity. This requires understanding the machines we use, their energy needs, and how, and how quickly, we can transition those machines to ones that are fuelled by renewable energy (predominantly wind and solar).
Australia can be the world’s foundry, we can make the world’s ammonia and hydrogen, and we could even store the world’s carbon in rebuilding our soils through agricultural sequestration.
We will create savings in our suburbs, and jobs in our regions and show the world the pathway to whole-economy success. The time has come for action; the time has come to lead. As a small nation of hard-working, quiet achievers with everything to win, and everything to lose, we should go first, and we should go fastest. Let’s do this, for our children and for ours.
Saul is an inventor, author, founder and scientist, and founder of multiple companies and non-profits. He has led projects for agencies including NASA, DARPA, National Science Foundation and more. He has founded and co-founded multiple successful companies, including one acquired by Google, another by Autodesk, and another by a consortium of vehicle manufacturers including Toyota. In 2007 he was awarded a Macarthur Fellowship, the so-called ‘Genius Grant’, for inventions in the service of humanity.