The challenges are complex, far and wide 

Methane.PNGGlobal human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are about more than energy.1     

  • 29% come from making things (cement, steel, plastic)
  • 26% from generating electricity
  • 22% from growing things (plants, animals)
  • 16% from getting around (planes, ships, cars)
  • 7% from keeping cool or warm
  • Hydrocarbons are needed to build the new infrastructure that supports renewable energies.2 
  • Many of the products that are part of the energy transition to lower carbon emissions are derived from natural gas liquids (NGLs).  These include high performance building insulation and windows, lightweight parts for vehicles and aviation, electric vehicle equipment and infrastructure and renewable energy solutions.  According to Visual Capitalist, plastics comprise 50% (by volume, 10% by mass) of an EV including parts such as tires, lights, seats, battery compartments, and component housings.3
  • Large wind turbines require steel, cement and plastics.  Foundations are steel-reinforced concrete, rotors are steel, and their massive blades are plastic resins.  All these parts are brought to the installation sites by outsized trucks and erected by large steel cranes, and turbine gearboxes must be repeatedly lubricated with oil.  According to Vestas, each 1 megawatt wind turbine requires 400 barrels of crude oil and 1,800 Mcf of natural gas while NREL notes there are 130,000 kg per MW of steel, plastics, iron, copper, and aluminum.3
  • It takes a long time to adopt new sources of energy.  Coal went from 5% of the world’s energy supply to nearly 50% over 60 years.
  • In 1900, natural gas accounted for 1% of the world’s energy, it took 70 years to reach 20%.  
  • It took 80 years from the discovery of nuclear energy to widespread commercialization of nuclear power.
  • Batteries can’t affordably store enough electricity to power a medium-sized city for a week.4
  • In 2020, two decades after its deliberate accelerated energy transition, Germany still had to keep 89% of its fossil-fired capacity to meet demand on days when the weather did not support renewable energy generation.5  
  • China produces three-quarters of all lithium-ion batteries and is home to 70% of production capacity for cathodes and 85% of production capacity for anodes — key components of batteries. Over half of lithium, cobalt and graphite processing and refining capacity is in China.6
  • Competition for the refining of Rare Earth Elements (REE) and other critical minerals is even more limited, with China holding a monopoly on downstream processing.  Roughly 80% of U.S. refined REE imports come from China.7 
  • Russia holds the 4th largest global supply of rare earth elements necessary for the energy transition.8
  • Research shows that if the U.S. were to entirely decarbonize, substantial state or federal assistance would need to be directed to local governments previously dependent on fossil fuel operations in order to maintain basic public services. Replacing local fossil fuel revenues with onshore wind in U.S. counties that produce oil and gas, would be unfeasible since this would require large amounts of land in order to generate a comparable level of local tax revenue. 9