IPCC Turns Green Energy Lobby: Climate Scientists Call For $2.4 Trillion Shift From Coal To Renewables

  • Date: 08/10/18
  • Bloomberg

The findings released Monday by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change add pressure on policymakers and businesses to step up their response to global warming, which the scientists said is melting ice caps and making storms more violent. The atmosphere is almost 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) hotter than it was at the start of the industrial revolution, and burning more fossil fuels will accelerate the shift toward higher temperatures, the group said in its report.

Chart from IPCC’s report shows observed temperatures through 2017 and scenarios to limit further warming.

Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Temperatures are currently on track (sic) to rise 3 degrees Celsius by 2100. That’s double the pace targeted under the Paris climate agreements endorsed by almost 200 nations in 2015.

“We are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice,” said Panmao Zhai, one of the co-chairs who helped bring together the report by the researchers who reviewed thousands of scientific papers.

Envoys at the 2015 Paris talks asked the IPCC to study what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, a more ambitious goal than the previous 2-degree target. The scientists concluded that carbon dioxide emissions should be cut 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels then reduced to zero by 2050. That would require “unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” most especially within the energy industry. The report acknowledged those changes would be difficult and costly, but not impossible.

“These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors,” the IPCC said in the report. “These options are technically proven at various scales, but their large-scale deployment may be limited by economic, financial, human capacity and institutional constraints.’’

To limit warming to 1.5 degrees would require a roughly fivefold increase in average annual investment in low-carbon energy technologies by 2050, compared with 2015. The $2.4 trillion needed annually through 2035 is also an almost sevenfold increase from the $333.5 billion Bloomberg NEF estimated was invested in renewable energy last year.

THE IPCC REPORT ALSO RECOMMENDED THAT BY 2050:
  • Coal’s share of electricity supply should be cut to 2 percent or less.
  • Renewables should supply 70 percent to 85 percent of power generation.
  • Carbon capture and storage technology should be deployed to absorb remaining fossil-fuel emissions.
  • Natural gas could maintain an 8 percent share of electricity generation if CCS reduced total global net emissions to zero by 2050.

Those ambitions would mark a massive upheaval to the energy system, with coal currently accounting for about 37 percent of power and gas at 24 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.

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