GLOBE-Net, December 7, 2013
We conclude that the widely accepted target of limiting human-made global climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level is too high and would subject young people, future generations and nature to irreparable harm.
A prominent group of international climate scientists and economists have released a paper that disputes the merits of the widely accepted global warming target of 2ºC; They propose instead a target of 1ºC, which they say can be realized through more aggressive pricing of carbon emissions and the accelerated development of low carbon energy options.
The paper, Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature, describes in detail the devastating impacts that would result from the globally accepted 2ºC target for climate warming which was set in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord.
[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”300″ bcolor=”e5e5e5″ bgcolor=”e5e5e5″ image=”null”]It explains that Earth’s history shows sea levels could rise by as much as six metres (20 feet). [/stextbox]But if realized the 2ºC target would lead to much more potentially devastating impacts such as further reduction of ice sheet coverage, the development of forests in areas where they do not now exists such as in the high latitude areas of North America and Asia, and a significant increase of nitrous oxide and methane gases in the atmosphere.
According to paper, even if the 2ºC target was realized the planet would be unfit for future generations and nature.
In contrast to the target of 2ºC, the authors argue that “human-made warming” could be held to 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) as this would “…restore Earths’ energy balance and approximately stabilize climate”.
The paper suggests ways to reverse soaring carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by imposing the real costs of burning fossil fuels in the form of a rising carbon tax.
For example states the paper, “An economic analysis indicates that a tax beginning at $15/tCO2 and rising $10/tCO2 each year would reduce emissions in the U.S. by 30% within 10 years.”
Lead author of the scientific team, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and now a scientist at the Earth Institute, Dr. James Hansen, said, “We dispute the common assumption that the world necessarily is going to develop all fossil fuels that can be found, thus making large global warming inevitable. Humanity does not need to be a bunch of lemmings headed over a cliff.”
He added, “Indeed, appropriate policies that phase out fossil fuel emissions over decades would be economically and environmentally beneficial.”
How does that compute?
The rising carbon fees collected from fossil fuel companies would improve economic efficiency because it allows energy efficiency and alternative low-carbon and no-carbon energies to compete equally, argues Hansen. The resulting energy transformations, say the economists on the research team, would generate many jobs, especially benefitting nations that are still in economic recession.
“An agreement among even a few of the largest economies (United States, China, European Union, Japan) could spur near-global agreement. Countries agreeing to have a rising carbon fee would likely place border duties on products from countries without a carbon fee, thus providing strong incentive for other countries to join,” says the report.
The rising carbon fee is not enough the authors acknowledge, and the paper explores the further development of renewable energies, nuclear power, solar and wind power with advances in energy storage, smart electric grids and more.
“It is crucial that the major international powers today realize that we are all in the same boat together and we will all sink together or sail together,“ said Hansen.
Read the full paper: here
The Changing Energy Landscape will be discussed at GLOBE 2014 taking place March 26-28, 2014 in Vancouver Canada, where practical solutions and innovative emission-reducing technologies will be on display. Check here for more information.