Action is needed to make stagnant CO2 emissions fall: research

Action is needed to make stagnant CO2 emissions fall
The Wolf Hollow generating station is in Granbury, TX. Credit: Rob Jackson.

Without a significant effort to reduce greenhouse gases, including an accelerated deployment of technologies for capturing atmospheric carbon and storing it underground, and sustained growth in renewables such as wind and solar, the world could miss a key global temperature target set by the Paris Agreement and the long-term goal of net-zero climate pollution.

The finding, published in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, is part of a new study that aims to track the progress and compare emission pledges of more than 150 nations that signed the Paris Agreement, a 2015 United Nations convention that aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels—the threshold that scientists have marked as the point of no return for catastrophic warming.

"The good news is that have been flat for three years in a row," said Robert Jackson, chair of the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. "Now we need actual reductions in global emissions and careful tracking of emission pledges and country-level statistics."

In the new study, Jackson and his colleagues developed a nested family of metrics that can be used to track different national emissions pledges and thus global progress toward the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Applying their method to the recent past, the researchers found that global emissions have remained steady at around 36 gigatons of carbon dioxide for the third year in a row in 2016.

"The rapid deployment of wind and solar is starting to have an effect globally, and in key players such as China, the U.S. and the European Union," said Glen Peters, senior researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO) and lead author for the study. "The challenge is to substantially accelerate the new additions of wind and solar, and find solutions for effectively integrating these into existing electricity networks."

However, wind and solar alone won't be sufficient to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. When the researchers examined the drivers behind the recent slowdown, they found that most of them boiled down to economic factors and reduced coal use, mostly in China but also the United States.

In China, the decline in coal use was driven by reduced output of cement, steel and other energy-intensive products, as well as a dire need to alleviate , which is responsible for more than 1 million premature deaths annually.

The reasons for the decline in the United States were more complex, driven not only by a decline in coal use but also by gains in energy efficiency in the industrial sector and the rapid rise of natural gas and wind and solar power. "2016 was the first year that natural gas surpassed coal for electricity generation," said Jackson, who is also chair of the Global Carbon Project, which tracks the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by humans each year.

Looking to the future, the researchers predict that the greatest challenge to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement is the slower than expected rollout of carbon capture and storage technologies. Most scenarios suggest the need for thousands of facilities with carbon capture and storage by 2030, the researchers say, far below the tens that are currently proposed.

Jackson notes that carbon capture and storage technology will prove even more crucial if President Donald Trump follows through with his campaign pledge of resuscitating the nation's struggling coal industry.

"There's no way to reduce the carbon emissions associated with coal without and storage," Jackson said.

Jackson is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy.


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More information: Key indicators to track current progress and future ambition of the Paris Agreement, Nature Climate Change, nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nclimate3202
Journal information: Nature Climate Change

Citation: Action is needed to make stagnant CO2 emissions fall: research (2017, January 30) retrieved 16 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-01-action-stagnant-co2-emissions-fall.html
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Jan 31, 2017
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Jan 31, 2017
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Feb 07, 2017
Well, there are several other stories on physorg about wetlands, coastal areas, forests, etc all of which we are told have the capability to store much more carbon than models factor it. As their full role in the process isn't understood, so we are told repeatedly, more research (i.e. funding) is needed.

Before we go killing our economies and drive people back into cold shivering caves perhaps we should be sure that the science is correct.

So far no models are predicting anything like the past 20 years accurately (Ice free arctic by 2015 included).

So other than adjusting past temp data lower and recent temp date higher we could do some real science first.

Feb 07, 2017
Duped!

http://www.dailym...ata.html

Yes, you were (https://andthenth...selines/ ).

The thing is that, as incompetent as the Daily Mail article is, that seems to be as good as the anti-science group gets. And the public eats up the misinformation as always.

Feb 09, 2017
And that Action is needed RIGHT NOW, The earth can only take so much before a devestating change takes place !

Feb 09, 2017
We need Renewables To Lead us into the furure ! Clean air, a Healthy Ocean and a better life for everyone on earth !

Feb 10, 2017
Chocolate rivers and fluffy bunnies for all too while we are it.

Feb 10, 2017
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