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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PwC: world carbon budget will be blown in 21 years

There is a limit to how much more carbon can be put into the atmosphere by 2100 before warming beyond 2 degrees Centigrade above pre-Industrial levels is locked-in. Think of it as the world's carbon budget. 

Global consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in another searing report on climate change, has found that the world is on pace to blow through this carbon budget in 21 years. This threatens to cause global warming of more than double the threshold deemed safe by the United Nations.

Busting the Carbon Budget
a number of the technological silver bullets - the big bets banked on for heavy duty decarbonisation - appear to be failing. Nuclear power, despite the UK’s announcement of its first new plant in twenty years, is in retreat in Japan and Germany. The deployment of carbon capture and storage appears to have stalled, with no commercial scale projects integrating CCS with power generation. Shale gas has displaced coal in the US, but cheaper coal contributed to higher coal consumption in Europe last year.
This situation raises:
real questions about the viability of our vast fossil fuel reserves, and the way we power our economy. The 2-degrees carbon budget is simply not big enough to cope with the unmitigated exploitation of these reserves. 
The sobering bottom-line: 
Our model shows we now need to reduce carbon intensity by 6% every year from now till 2100. This is over eight times our current rate of decarbonisation. Even doubling the current 0.7% rate of decarbonisation puts us on a path consistent with the most extreme scenario presented by the IPCC, and potential warming of around 4°C by 2100. On current trends we will use up this century’s carbon budget by 2034 – sixty six years early. Put simply, we are busting the carbon budget.

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