Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bad News on climate Change: We Need Zero Emissions

Well, this study offers some very, very bad news:

Only the total elimination of industrial emissions will succeed in limiting climate change to a 2°C rise in temperatures, according to computer analysis of climate change. Anything above this target has been identified as "dangerous" by some scientists, and the limit has been adopted by many policymakers.

The researchers say their study highlights the shortcomings of governmental plans to limit climate change.

A warming of 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures is frequently cited as the limit beyond which the world will face "dangerous" climate change. Beyond this level, analysis suggests the continents will cease to absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce. As the tundra and other regions of permafrost thaw, they will spew more gas into the atmosphere, adding to the warming effect of human emissions.

. . .

In January 2007, the European Commission issued a communication stating that "the European Union's objective is to limit global average temperature increase to less than 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels".

Andrew Weaver and colleagues at the University of Victoria in Canada say this means going well beyond the reduction of industrial emissions discussed in international negotiations.

Weaver's team used a computer model to determine how much emissions must be limited in order to avoid exceeding a 2°C increase. The model is an established tool for analysing future climate change and was used in studies cited in the IPCC's reports on climate change.

They modelled the reduction of industrial emissions below 2006 levels by between 20% and 100% by 2050. Only when emissions were entirely eliminated did the temperature increase remain below 2°C.

A 100% reduction of emissions saw temperature change stabilise at 1.5°C above the pre-industrial figure. With a 90% reduction by 2050, Weaver's model predicted that temperature change will eventually exceed 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures but then plateau.


Read it all here.

this is bad news because zero emissions is simply not feasible. It may be time to rethink our approach to climate change beyond the carbon tax and cap and trade.

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