Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Killing Off Old King Coal While There's Still Time

If we're to avoid runaway global warming, we have to get carbon emissions down into the mid to low-40s by 2020.   At the moment we're at 52 and trending upwards.   That is 52 gigatonnes, 52 billion metric tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.   That's where we're at this year.

A new report in Nature Climate Change finds that it might be possible to avoid the dreaded 2C warming if we can throttle back emissions to somewhere between 41 and 47 gigatonnes by 2020.

What does that sort of cutback look like?   It means shutting down about 65% of the world's coal-fired power stations over the next decade or two.   That's going to be tricky. 

A World Resources Institute report released in November accounted for 1,200 new coal-fired power plants on the books for construction in 59-countries with about two-thirds to be built in India and China.   The emissions from those new coal plants is expected to add the equivalent of another China to global emissions output.

It seems we have to come up with some sort of deal to keep those new coal-fired plants from being built and that is presumably going to mean coming up with economically viable, alternative energy solutions.

With Harper seemingly bent on massively increasing Tar Sands production, perhaps in a desperate attempt at resuscitating the moribund Athabasca resource, we're only going to be adding to the problem.   Ethical oil my arse.

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