Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Recommendations to Counter Climate Change by 2050

Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissi...
Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by country for the year 2000 including land-use change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pathways To Deep Decarbonization - interim 2014 report to the Secretary General of the United Nations (288 page pdf, Jeffrey Sachs, Laurence Tubiana, Emmanuel Guerin, Henri Waisman, Carl Mas, Michel Colombier, Guido Schmidt-Traub, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Jul. 8, 2014) 

Also discussed here: Executive Summary - Pathways To Deep Decarbonization (16 page pdf, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Jul.8, 2014) 

And here: Deep Decarbonization Pathways (Sustainable Development Solutions Network) 

Today we review an interim report to the UN’s Secretary General that puts to one side the last 20 years of largely failed negotiations focused on legal niceties by 20 conferences, sponsored by the UN Convention on Climate Change, aimed at reducing the impact of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by making communities more resilient. The report estimates that without significant changes to the way that energy is generated from carbon fuels that the global mean temperature will increase by 4.5 deg C by the end of the century. It recommends three approaches be taken quickly and seriously by all countries, but especially those among the largest emitters (America, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea) and these are: Energy efficiency and conservation, Low-carbon electricity and Fuel Switching. A final report is expected within the next year leading up to a crucial climate conference in Paris in 2015. 

Key Quotes: 

“All we have been doing in these negotiations for all these years is talking about things in the abstract. It’s not producing the deep technological changes that can get us to a low-carbon global economy,” 

“in the absence of additional commitments to reduce GHG emissions, the world is on a trajectory to an increase in global mean temperature of 3.7°C to 4.8°C compared to pre-industrial levels. When accounting for full climate uncertainty, this range extends from 2.5°C to 7.8°C by the end of the century. “ 

 “the level of cumulative CO2 emissions from land use, fossil fuels, and industry must be in the range of 550-1300 billion tons (Gigatons or Gt) by mid-century. If one excludes a significant contribution from net negative emissions,3 the CO2 budget to 2050 is 825 Gt. Staying within this CO2 budget requires very near-term peaking and a sharp reduction in CO2 emissions thereafter, especially in energy-related CO2 emissions.” 

“Assuming a world population of 9.5 billion people by 2050… means that countries would need to converge close to a global average of CO2-energy emissions per capita of 1.6 tons in 2050, which is a sharp decrease compared to today's global average of 5.2 tons, especially for developed countries with current emissions per capita much higher than today's global average.”  

“The study looks at the world’s 15 biggest economies: America, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea, which between them account for 70% of global emissions.” 

 “The 15 DDPs…share three common pillars of deep decarbonization of national energy systems:  

1) Energy efficiency and conservation: Greatly improved energy efficiency in all energy end-use sectors including passenger and goods transportation, through improved vehicle technologies, smart urban design, and optimized value chains; residential and commercial buildings, through improved end-use equipment, architectural design, building practices, and construction materials; and industry, through improved equipment, production processes, material efficiency, and re-use of waste heat. 

2) Low-carbon electricity: Decarbonization of electricity generation through the replacement of existing fossil-fuel-based generation with renewable energy … 

3) Fuel Switching: Switching end-use energy supplies from highly carbon-intensive fossil fuels in transportation, buildings, and industry to lower carbon fuels… 

 “The report envisages that Britain by mid-century would generate about 35% of its electricity from nuclear power plants and 40% from coal using carbon capture technologies… America too will remain heavily invested in coal, and could generate up to 35% of its electricity from coal using carbon capture technologies.South Africa, which is now heavily dependent on coal, could generate 80% of its electricity from solar energy, while countries such as Australia could achieve cuts in their emissions by switching to electric cars and public transport.”

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