Monday, November 24, 2008

Hair on fire

The International Energy Agency has issued its World Energy Outlook 2008. WEO 2008 stresses the necessity of controlling CO2 emissions. The number one conclusion of the report is that

Current energy trends are patently unsustainable - socially, environmentally and economically

The IEA has been introducing the report around the world. There is video of some of these (US, Sweden, Norway ) The bottom line is

Current energy trends are patently unsustainable —socially,
environmentally, economically

Rising global consumption of fossil fuels is still set to drive up greenhouse-gas emissions and global temperatures, resulting in potentially catastrophic and irreversible climate change. The projected rise in emissions in the Reference Scenario, in which no change in government policies is assumed, puts us on a course of doubling the concentration of those gases in the atmosphere to around 1000 parts per million of CO2-equivalent by the end of this century. This would lead to an eventual global temperature increase of up to 6°C.

Without a change in policy, the world is on a path for a rise in global temperature of up to 6°C. WEO-2008 assesses the implications for the energy sector of efforts to put the world onto a different trajectory, by means of a 550 Policy Scenario, in which greenhouse gas concentration is stabilised at 550 ppm CO2-equivalent and temperature rises by about 3°C, and of a 450 Policy Scenario which results in a 2°C increase.

To avoid "abrupt and irreversible" climate change we need a major decarbonisation of the world’s energy system

Mitigating climate change will substantially improve energy security

The present economic worries do not excuse back-tracking or delays in taking action to address energy challenge

And oh yes, adaptation, new technology and mitigation are all needed right now. FWIW to meet the goal of 550 ppm requires an additional investment of $4.1 trillion over the no policy change scenario , but yields $7 trillion in reduced costs from increased efficiency. 450 ppm requires an additional investment $9.3 trillion in investment and claws back only $5.8 trillion in efficiency increases.



Magnus W said...

In Reinfeldt we trust ;) Quite rational speech.

ourchangingclimate said...

It is comforting to know that savings (from increased eficiency) could outweigh the costs (of investment). I don't quite understand though how fuel savings can be lower for the 450 ppm scenario compared to the 550 scenario?

That said, it seems that the costs associated with the consequences of climate change are not included here, and I think that they may start to increase rapidly above a certain level (and after a certain time).

Anonymous said...

ourchangingclimate, that's simple: look at the picture. The figures for the 450 ppm scenario are above and beyond those for the 550 ppm scenario... which are relative to BAU.


Douglas Watts said...

The present economic worries do not excuse back-tracking or delays in taking action to address energy challenge.

Fortunately, Mr. Obama seems in agreement with this assessment. Also, few in the mainstream seem to be buying into the "we can't afford now to save ourselves" meme.

David B. Benson said...

But we can afford to save ourselves:

Peridotite weathering almost for free

Thanks to Micael Tobis for finding and blogging about this paper.

ourchangingclimate said...

Anonymous, it sounds to me like you interpret the numbers for the 450 scenario relative to the 550 scenario (which I thought was meant as well), but on it is mentioned that these numbers are "relative to the reference scenario". I don't see how fuel savings from the reference (leading to 1000ppm in 2100) to 450 ppm could be less than from the same 1000 ppm reference to 550 ppm. I'm sure I'm just missing something here, but don't know yet what it is.

Magnus W said...

I can't find the PNAS article...

Anonymous said...

ourchangingclimate, yes, that's weird. it even says so explicitly.

Could it be that complete replacement of energy generating technologies is not counted toward fuel savings, and there is more of that in the 450 scenario?


David B. Benson said...

In situ carbonation of peridotite for CO2 storage --- Peter B. Kelemen and Jürg Matter --- PNAS

Hank Roberts said...

They're saying this could handle a billion tons per year, out of the 20 to 30 billion tons -- so it's an increment, not a panacea.

Do they say for how many years that level of CO2 sequestration could go on, or what sets the limits?

Depth? Area of deposits? Access?

David B. Benson said...

Hank, that's a billion tonnes per year per cubic kilometer. There are vast number of cubic kilometers available.

Eventually all the olivine is carbonated and no further removal is possible in that location; move on to the next one down the line.