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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tick, tick, tick...

Global greenhouse gas emissions grew nearly twice as fast over the past decade as in the previous 30 years.  Yet, the IPCC’s new report on climate change mitigation says that there is still a narrow window of time in which the world can avoid climate disaster without ruining the economy.

IPCC says that the next 15 years are crucial in determining whether we can reign in global climate disruption without extreme costs

The challenge is clear, daunting, and huge. We must decarbonize the global economy entirely by 2100.

What will that take?

This Bloomberg piece is a succinct summary of what the world needs to do - starting now - to avert climate disaster:  
The world needs to triple the energy it gets from renewables, nuclear reactors and power plants that use emissions-capture technology to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, United Nations scientists said.
Investments needed to keep climate change within safe limits would shave a fraction of a percent off annual global growth... A delay in stemming rising greenhouse gases will cut chances to limit the global temperature increase, add to costs and lead to increasingly reliance on unproven technologies, they said...
“Substantial reductions in emissions would require large changes in investment patterns,” the scientists wrote. A 2-degree scenario would involve “more rapid improvements of energy efficiency, a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon energy supply” by 2050...
In financial terms:  
The International Energy Agency estimated last year that the power industry needs to invest $17 trillion from 2013 through 2035 to satisfy rising electricity demand. Investments made now in new fossil fuel-fired plants have implications for future emissions because they last for decades, it says.
To meet the 2-degree goal, annual spending on fossil fuel plants must drop by $30 billion a year by 2030, the panel said. Annual expenditure on renewables, nuclear, and carbon capture and storage must rise by $147 billion, and spending on energy efficiency measures for transportation, buildings and industry needs to increase by $336 billion, it said.
We must change our energy mix, starting now.  An investment regime directed to low- or no-carbon energy will grow the global economy - in the worst case, only slightly slower than business as usual.

There is a role for natural gas (and even coal), done right - and that must include CCS - and CCUS - and policies that leverage gas to drive renewable energy deployment.  But time for fossil fuels - and for all of us - is running out without them.

We have been racing like lemmings towards the climate abyss. There is still a very small amount of time to turn towards safety. What will our children and grandchildren say of us?
 

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