Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

CO2 emission reduction assumptions overly optimistic

04.04.2008
Technological challenges of reducing CO2 underestimated by IPCC, according to CU-Boulder-led study

Reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide this century is going to be more challenging than society has been led to believe, according to a new research commentary article appearing April 3 in Nature.

The authors, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and McGill University in Montreal, said the technological challenges of reducing CO2 emissions have been significantly underestimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The study concludes the IPCC is overly optimistic in assuming that, even without action by policymakers, new technologies will result in dramatic reductions in the growth of future emissions.

Recent changes in “carbon intensity” -- CO2 emissions per unit of energy consumption -- already are higher than those predicted by the IPCC because of rapid economic development, said lead author and CU-Boulder Professor Roger Pielke Jr. of the environmental studies program. In Asia, for instance, the demands of more energy-intensive economies are being met with conventional fossil-fuel technologies, a process expected to continue there for decades and eventually move into Africa.

The IPCC underestimate of carbon intensity is due in part to the panel’s differing scenarios tied to global emission changes expected to occur spontaneously and those driven by climate policies, according to the Nature authors. Titled “Dangerous Assumptions,” the Nature commentary was co-authored by Senior Scientist Tom Wigley of NCAR’s Climate and Global Dynamics Division and economics Professor Christopher Green of McGill University’s Global Environmental and Climate Change Center.

“According to the IPCC report, the majority of the emission reductions required to stabilize CO2 concentrations are assumed to occur automatically,” said Pielke. “Not only is this reduction unlikely to happen under current policies, we are moving in the opposite direction right now. We believe these kind of assumptions in the analysis blind us to reality and could potentially distort our ability to develop effective policies.”

Stabilization of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases was the primary objective of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change approved by almost all countries, including the United States, said Wigley.

“Stabilization is a more daunting challenge than many realize and requires a radical ‘decarbonization’ of energy systems,” said Wigley. “Global energy demand is projected to grow rapidly, and these huge new demands must be met by largely carbon-neutral energy sources -- sources that either do not use fossil fuels or which capture and store any emitted CO2.”

Calculations by the Nature authors show that at least two-thirds of the amount of carbon that has to be removed from the energy supply in order to stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentrations at roughly 500 parts per million is assumed to occur automatically by the IPCC authors. Atmospheric CO2 levels are currently at about 390 parts per million.

Enormous advances in energy policy in the coming decades will be needed to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at levels currently considered “acceptable,” the Nature authors concluded.

Unlike the IPCC authors, who built in assumptions about future “spontaneous” technological innovations, the Nature commentary authors began with a set of “frozen technology” scenarios as baselines -- scenarios in which energy technologies are assumed to stay at present levels. “With a frozen technology approach, the full scope of the carbon-neutral technology challenge is placed into clear view,” said Green.

“In the end, there is no question whether technological innovation is necessary -- it is,” the authors wrote in Nature. “The question is, to what degree should policy focus explicitly on motivating such innovation? The IPCC plays a risky game in assuming that spontaneous advances in technological innovation will carry most of the burden of achieving future emissions reductions, rather than focusing on those conditions that are necessary and sufficient for those innovations to occur.”

Roger Pielke Jr. | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>