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 Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>