Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Climate Fix by Roger Pielke jnr

Here is my summary of his main points so far:
  1. we will need VASTLY more energy in the future
  2. the amount of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere is a big problem - both AGW and biogeochemical effects
  3. so we have to decarbonise the energy supply, aka reduce carbon intensity C output / energy consumed (see Kaya identity section for more detail here)
  4. decarbonisation makes sense from other perspectives too, eg. energy security for some countries (from a policy perspective it is important that there are some short and intermediate term gains from the pain or costs of policy)
  5. the public will not accept a big C tax designed to change energy consumption behaviour - they will vote out any party that introduces it
  6. small steps are better than grandiose plans that end up being rejected
  7. there is not a linear relationship between climate science and government policy, Scientific findings in complex social issues do not dictate policy. Politics in a democracy requires public support. A non linear or oblique approach might work. The direct approach has failed (Copenhagen)
  8. the public will accept a small dedicated C tax (rising slowly over time) to fund R&D; there is consistent public support for some action on climate change but not dramatic action which will alter standard of living
  9. We need more R&D because present technology is not sufficient to do the CO2 reduction that is required – taking into account future economic growth and removal of CO2 from the ocean to reduce harmful biogeochemical effects, as well as from the atmosphere
  10. Since the above steps do not provide a guarantee for targeted CO2 reductions then a backstop is also required
  11. CO2 air capture and storage (remediation) is a potential backstop, which could reshape the climate debate, one of the targets for further R&D

2 comments:

Tony Forster said...

1) Exponential growth of the number of horses in 1900 predict that the streets would be metres deep in horse poo by 2000. We are moving to a services based economy. Predictions of vast increases in energy should not be uncritically accepted.

9) There is a lot that can be done with existing technology. Early action is necessary. I hope this is not used as a delaying tactic

11) CO2 air capture and storage is very difficult. It is much much cheaper to not burn the carbon. It is much cheaper to capture it at the point of combustion.

lucychili said...

I think taxing carbon is a squeaky door response to climate change. It makes a problem more evident but is not an action which generates or demonstrates carbon free ways of functioning for communities or industries. Constructive experimentation in changing architecture, planning, manufacture, foodmiles, household patterns of power generation and use, better understanding of biomass, ocean patterns, water systems are just some proactive areas for action imho.