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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are we cooked?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage from climate disruption unless most of the world's electricity is produced from low-carbon sources by 2050 - and almost all of it by 2100.

The IPCC's Synthesis Report says that if global warming is to be limited to two degrees Centigrade - the internationally-recognized threshold of dangerous climate change - low-carbon sources of energy must increase from their current global share of "approximately 30%" to more than 80% by 2050. And to 90% by 2100.

Note that IPCC refers to "low-carbon" energy sources. We're kidding ourselves, alas, if we think renewables alone can save us. IPCC's list of essential technologies includes not only renewable energy, but also nuclear energy, fossil-fueled energy with CCS, and bioenergy with CCS (BECCS). In fact, you basically can't get close to the two degree Centigrade target without CCS. Indeed, according to IPCC, all fossil-fueled power generation without CCS must be phased out almost entirely by 2100 .

We’re a long way from any of those targets, and funding for research, development, and deployment of necessary energy technologies falls far, far short of what's needed.

Does the world have the political will to transform our energy supply and save life as we know it? Or are we cooked?

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