‘Carbon Law’ Would Halve Emissions Every Decade, Deliver 75% Odds of Climate Stabilization
Humanity can aim for 75% odds of holding average global warming “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels by applying Moore’s Law as the basis for halving greenhouse gas emissions every decade through 2050, according to a paper published late last month in the journal Science.
In practical terms, the Carbon Law—proposed by a research team led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre’s Johan Rockström—would mean phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020, coal mining and combustion by 2030, and crude oil as an energy source by 2040, Climate News Network reports.
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“We are already at the start of this trajectory. In the last decade, the share of renewables in the energy sector has doubled every 5.5 years,” Rockström told CN Network. “If doubling continues at this pace, fossil fuels will exit the energy sector well before 2050.”
He added that “our civilization needs to reach a socio-economic tipping point soon, and this roadmap shows just how this can happen.”
Under the Carbon Law, “the construction industry will be carbon neutral” by 2030. “So will some of the world’s great cities, lit up by renewable energy, the traffic powered by hydrogen, or by carbon-neutral biofuels,” CN Network notes. A decade later, “Europe will be the first continent with zero carbon emissions, and by 2050, the entire global economy will be carbon neutral: those who do still rely on fossil fuel combustion will also by then have found ways to remove the carbon dioxide they have released.”
The authors’ argument “is that action needs to be firm, and rapid, and that the pledges made so far will not deliver the Paris promise. But determined action by nations, civic authorities, and big corporations could achieve the goals,” writes correspondent Tim Radford. “The scientists’ roadmap foresees renewable energy technologies doubling every five to seven years. They look for new and ambitious technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere. And they see agriculture and forestry rapidly reducing emissions, in step with the city-dwelling world.”
The veteran climate researchers on the study team “don’t see their prescription of a carbon law as an expense, more as an economic opportunity that will deliver rewards in lower costs, more employment, and a better environment,” CN Network adds. “They stress the role of innovation, institutions, infrastructure, and investment in steps towards making the zero emissions economy ‘an inevitability, rather than wishful thinking.’”