Modelling the Best Way to Reduce Global Carbon Emissions

2 °C and SDGs: united they stand, divided they fall? (16 page pdf, Christoph von Stechow, Jan C Minx, Keywan Riahi, Jessica Jewell, David L McCollum, Max W Callaghan, Christoph Bertram, Gunnar Luderer and Giovanni Baiocchi, Environmental Research Letters, Mar. 16, 2016)

Also discussed here: Short-sighted climate policy jeopardizes other UN sustainable development goals (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis News, Mar. 16, 2016)

Today we review the results from 7 “integrated” models which were used to assess 20 scenarios for each decade out to 2050 while considering the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets and the agreement to limit global climate warming to 2 deg C, set out in the recent COP 21 conference in Paris. Some carbon emission reduction strategies have emphasized economic impacts alone, failing to take into account wider social and environmental implications.

Application of carbon pricing to transportation, for example, has a greater potential for lowering emissions in the near term because of the short turn-around needed for technological improvements (e.g. electric vehicles) and the quick responsiveness of users to fuel price changes. On the other hand, a major increase in energy prices can have major impacts on the poor in developing countries, unless their concerns are accommodated in some way.

Another significant finding from this research is the impact of delaying the reduction of energy while waiting for potential non carbon energy technologies to become cost effective and widely used, such as BioEnergy(BE), Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR). The modelling indicates that delaying climate mitigation in the short term, to give time for these technologies to emerge, leads to more risk and costs in the long term if the 2 deg goal is to be met.


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The Anthropocene and the Future

The Anthropocene: a conspicuous stratigraphical signal of anthropogenic changes in production and consumption across the biosphere (20 page pdf, MarkWilliams, Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N.Waters, Matt Edgeworth, Carys Bennett, Anthony D.Barnosky, Erle C. Ellis, Michael A. Ellis, Alejandro Cearreta, Peter K. Haff, Juliana A. Ivar do Sul, Reinhold Leinfelder, John R. McNeill, Eric Odada, Naomi Oreskes, Andrew Revkin, Daniel deB Richter,Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, James P. Syvitski, Davor Vidas, Michael Wagreich, Scott L.Wing, Alexander P.Wolfe, and An Zhisheng, AGU Publications – Earth’s Future, Mar. 14, 2016)

Also discussed here: Human impact forms ‘striking new pattern’ in Earth’s global energy flow (ScienceDaily, Mar. 23, 2016)

Today we review a geophysical history of the earth from the days when carbon and biological life were not present, through the evolution of the biosphere over 4 Billion years and photosynthesis to the advent of animal and plant life some 460 million years ago, modern humans 195, 000 years ago to the farming of land 10,000 years ago and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the beginning of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This history not only puts the significance of global climate change into context but it also shows the ways that man has literally changed the world.

anthrocene future

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What does the 2 Deg C Carbon Budget Look Like?

Differences between carbon budget estimates unraveled (Abstract, Joeri Rogelj, Michiel Schaeffer, Pierre Friedlingstein, Nathan P. Gillett, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Keywan Riahi, Myles Allen & Reto Knutti, Nature Climate Perspective, Feb. 24, 2016)

Also discussed here: A lower limit for future climate emissions (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) News, Feb. 24, 2016)

And here: A second look at the two-degree target (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) News, Dec. 7, 2015)

Today we review research at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis near Vienna which examines the conditions necessary to keep global warming within the 2 deg C target accepted by the United Nations Conference COP21 at Paris in the fall of 2015. The limit to the amount of carbon which can be burned (or the available carbon budget) in the future after 2015 has been estimated at varying amounts from 590 to 1240 billion tonnes, a difference of almost a billion tonnes. Differences arise because of assumptions made in various scenarios as well as the contributions by other greenhouse gases than CO2. The possibility of overestimating the budget by up to a billion tonnes is a major concern in terms of the urgency to reduce carbon emissions in action plans for the immediate future.


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How Much Coal, Gas and Coal Must be Kept Unused to limit Global Warming to 2 deg C?

The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C (Abstract, Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, Nature. Jan.8, 2016)

Also discussed here: Keep It in the Ground (36 page pdf, Sierra Club, Greenpeace,, Jan. 2016)

And here: Meeting two degree climate target means 80 per cent of world’s coal is “unburnable”, study says (Carbon Brief, Jan. 7, 2015)

Today we review a report commissioned by several environmental activist groups that examines the extent to which the remaining coal, gas and oil reserves would threaten the UN’s target to keep warming from greenhouse gases to below 2 deg C. The major threats come from the USA from fracking and oil, Australia from coal and from Canada with tar sands as well as from Russia, the Mid-East and China. Globally 1/3 of the oil reserves, ½ of the gas reserves and 80% of the coal reserves must remain unused between now and 2050 in order to reach the goal.

keep in the gorund

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Can Nuclear Power Meet the Challenges of Global CO2 Mitigation?

Potential for Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by Nuclear Energy in Three Decades Based on Extrapolation of Regional Deployment Data (10 page pdf, Staffan A. Qvist, Barry W. Brook, PLoS One(Public Library of Science) , May 13, 2015)
Also discussed here: The World Really Could Go Nuclear Nothing but fear and capital stand in the way of a nuclear-powered future (David Biello, Scientific American, Sep. 14, 2015

Today we review an article that concludes that all carbon fuelled power plants worldwide can be replaced in a little over 30 years with modern nuclear power plants. All that is required is public acceptance, government will and investment in the technology, making use of the experience gained over the last 50 years, as demonstrated prominently by France and more recently by Sweden. The most vocal arguments from the lay pubic against nuclear power focus on the high costs but these are expected to drop significantly as Type 4 reactors are brought onstream which can recycle spent nuclear fuel and uranium and use this as a resource. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects nuclear power to expand worldwide by 2030 as more reactors are built in Asia and the Middle East.

nuclear option

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Impacts of Climate Change on Lakes World-Wide

Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe (O’Reilly, C. M., S. Sharma, D. K. Gray, S. E. Hampton, J. S. Read, R. J. Rowley, P. Schneider, J. D. Lenters, P. B. McIntyre, B. M. Kraemer, et al. (2015), Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe, Geophys. Res. Lett.,Dec. 16, 2015)
Also discussed here: Satellite data shows that climate change is warming Earth’s lakes (Chris Wood, Gizmag, Dec.17, 2015)

Today we review an article that examines the impact of climate change on lakes around the world, making use of satellite-derived temperatures as well as ground measurements. They reveal that lake temperatures are rising, especially in ice-covered lakes in polar regions by more than what is seen in the increase of air temperatures. This underscores the major impacts for lake ecology (example algae blooms) as a result of climate change, in general, as well as the future potential of fresh water fisheries. The authors suggest that the vulnerability of lakes be included and made an important part of any climate change action plan.

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Getting Inertia and Effectiveness into Meeting the Climate Change Challenge

UNFCCC before and after Paris – what’s necessary for an effective climate regime?

(22 page pdf, Lukas Hermwille, Wolfgang Obergassel, Hermann E. Ott, Christiane Beuermann, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Nov. 26, 2015)

Today we review a paper that examines the history, goals and structure of the UN Framework for Global Climate Change (UNFGCCC) and its failure to date of limiting GHG emissions. Part of the reason for this failure was its narrow focus on GHG emissions and for the Kyoto Protocol, unlike most environmental agreements, limiting participation to a short list of major emitting, developed countries with no role for developing countries. What is called for is a climate team approach to which those countries with ambitious goals are allowed to lead and with carbon trading attracting others to join the team. Also of note is the need for non emission goals such as progress on poverty and social conditions to count as credits for developing countries.

UNFGCC diagram

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