The most malodorous environmental trial facing the world’s big cities at the start of the 20th century was not sewage or slums but oil.

Problems associated with oil dependence are frightening, to say the least. Burning oil melts Arctic ice, which in turn fuels extreme climate change causing weather events such as droughts and typhoons. These events bring immense suffering and damage around the world.

With oil prices having gone north of $100 a barrel, pollution-related ailments at rage, and constrictive environmental regulations burgeoning, governments have embarked on research into alternative sources of energy to save the situation. As Henry Tricks writes, the world’s dependence on oil is fast coming to a tipping point. Oil is facing its Model T moment not because of a looming collapse in demand but due to a shift in investment strategies to alternative sources of energy. The following key indicators hint at the possibility of oil-free homes in the near future.

2017 Paris Treaty

Last year, an agreement in Paris was reached to offer a 50/50 chance of limiting the impacts of global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. That agreement was seen as a declaration of war against fossil fuels although Donald Trump dismissed climate change terming it as a “hoax”. However, big energy consumers such as India, China, and the European Union have shown the commitment to curb global warming. This is a clear indication that all fossil fuels stand to feel the impact.
The International Energy Agency forecasts that oil demand has to peak at 93m barrels per day by 2020 to achieve a 1.5ºC target. The use of oil in freight and passenger transport would plunge over the next 20 years, with electricity, biofuels and natural gas replacing it. The signatories to the Paris accord are yet to pledge such draconian action, but the transition is absolutely inevitable as the costs of renewable energy and batteries plummet.

Iceland’s Commitment to Create Petroleum-free Economy

Iceland is already utilizing clean and readily available energy sources to go green. For Iceland, necessity is indeed the mother of invention. This island nation has no petroleum reserves, no coal, and no trees. Icelanders opted to innovate rather than freeze in the dark, and this innovation is likely to spread out to other nations in the near future.
Iceland has set out a very ambitious program geared toward developing existing resources. Instead of importing every joule of their energy, they have drilled wells that tap hot underground water enough to power the entire city of Reykjavik. Icelanders have built a grid of pipes all through the city to circulate the water, hence heating the city’s homes and offices. As we speak, Iceland is using their many rivers and volcanoes to generate hydroelectric and geothermal energy in copious amounts.
Early this year, Iceland revealed their intention to build the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial vessel that is the 155-passenger Elding. This is considered the first lofty goal toward transforming the entire fleet of Iceland—one of the largest in the world. The whole country of Iceland is going through a clean energy revolution. Toyota and Daimler Chrysler already have hydrogen-equipped cars running there. Hertz, on the other hand, is offering hydrogen-powered vehicles for hire. According to the head of Icelandic New Energy, Jon Bjorn, Iceland plans to phase out all gasoline vehicles in favor of the new clean energy by 2035.

Costa Rica President-elect Pledges an Oil-free Future

Costa Rica’s president-elect Carlos Quesada Alvarado has vowed to end the reliance on gas and diesel for transportation. If Quesada makes good on his promises, Costa Rica will become a nation that runs mostly on renewables. Reports have it that the president vowed to move his country beyond diesel and gas for transportation but did not set specific dates when this will take effect.
Apparently, the president-elect is following the steps taken by Britain and France who have outlined specific dates for oil-free homes in the future. Meanwhile, Carlos Alvarado’s plan seems to be a statement of intent rather than a specific and timed phase-out strategy. This will be a significant step forward considering Costa Rica contributes to about 54% emissions on transportation alone. Costa Rica is a country where a move from gas and diesel autos—probably toward electrification—would bring an immense impact on its carbon footprint.

Conclusion

Climate change is and remains a moral challenge of our time. Last year alone, virtually every continent of the world suffered unprecedented hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires. A safe climate future demands of us to end the age of Big Oil. Limiting fossil-fuel production today is necessary to evade constant entrenchment of energy infrastructure.
Imagine a world packed with clean energy technology; where there is no longer the need to rip the Earth apart in search of oil sands; where there are no ocean oil spills anymore. Imagine a future society filled with crystal-clear water and clean, fresh air. Imagine driving your way through downtown Los Angeles and being able to view the Pasadena hills again. There is hope for oil-free homes in the near future.