A continued transition to natural gas could help sustain that decrease in the United States for a while. But natural gas power is ultimately a dead end. It can cut emissions in half compared to coal, but it still emits carbon dioxide.
“Long-term ‘sustainable’ emissions of fossil carbon are essentially zero,” says Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at Oxford University, whose research has helped establish the trillion-ton number.
Renewable power is often held up as the way to reduce carbon emissions over the long term. But even with fast growth in recent years, wind and solar account for only about 4 percent of electricity in the United States, and reaching much higher levels will bring challenges.
But the question isn’t really whether we’ll limit emissions to a trillion tons. It seems inevitable that humankind will blow past that goal. The bigger question is how much more carbon will be emitted, given that several trillion tons remain in the ground, waiting to be extracted and burned.
Friday, October 4, 2013
We’ll Blow by U.N. Climate-Change Panel’s Trillion-Tons Limit | MIT Technology Review
We’ll Blow by U.N. Climate-Change Panel’s Trillion-Tons Limit | MIT Technology Review: