The global community has committed itself to holding warming below 2°C to prevent “dangerous” climate change, the sum total of current policies—in place and pledged—will very likely lead to warming far in excess of this level. Indeed, present emission trends put the world plausibly on a path toward 4°C warming within this century.
Levels greater than 4°C warming could be possible within this century should climate sensitivity be higher, or the carbon cycle and other climate system feedbacks more positive, than anticipated. Current scientific evidence suggests that even with the current commitments and pledges fully implemented, there is roughly a 20 percent likelihood of exceeding 4°C by 2100, and a 10 percent chance of 4°C being exceeded as early as the 2070s.
Warming would not stop there. Because of the slow response of the climate system, the greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations that would lead to warming of 4°C by 2100 would actually commit the world to much higher warming, exceeding 6°C or more, in the long term, with several meters of sea-level rise ultimately associated with this warming.
I will focus on the most cost effective solutions to mitigating potential temperature changes.
Side stepping the politics and non-existent connection to nuclear war risk.
Fixing soot would be the fastest way to save lives currently lost to air pollution.
Fixing soot would be as good as fixing half of the CO2 problem and could be done for 10 to 20 times lower cost, it would save about 3 million lives that are already known to be lost each year and it would impact climate about 30 to 50 years faster than CO2 fixes.
* 42% Open biomass burning (forest and savanna burning) [switch to slash and char]
* 18% Residential biofuel burned with traditional technologies
* 14% Diesel engines for transportation [go to Euro 6 standard and better filters]
* 10% Diesel engines for industrial use
* 10% Industrial processes and power generation, usually from smaller boilers
* 6% Residential coal burned with traditional technologies
Five hundred million Smoke free cookers could be acquired for $50 to 100 billion (one year of the budget your propose). This would save lives from reduced indoor air pollution and alleviate the equivalent of 9% of global CO2.
About $200 billion could address most sources of soot in the world, while carbon dioxide mitigation has plans that are $100-200 billion per year for 100 years. Another point of perspective is that world oil subsidies are about $500-600 billion per year.
Health benefits are not enough for adoption of smoke free cookers. When asked what features are most important in a stove, the women talked about things that could save fuel costs, cooking time and the hassle that goes into collecting fuel.
Broad Group of China’s factory mass produced skyscrapers are ten times cheaper to make and reduce construction dust by 98%. This would greatly improve soot levels in China and other developing countries. The buildings are also more energy efficient which reduces fuel usage for heating by 6 times.
A package of 16 measures could, if fully implemented across the globe, save close to 2.5 million lives a year; avoid crop losses amounting to 32 million tonnes annually and deliver near-term climate protection of about half a degree C by 2040.
Nine priority measures are identified for reducing black carbon emissions, with substantial benefits to health and the environment.
A switch from traditional biomass cookstoves to more efficient fan-assisted ones, or stoves fueled by Liquefied Petroleum Gas or biogas, offers the biggest reduction potential in Africa, Asia Pacific and, to some extent, in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Action on cookstoves is also pinpointed as a low cost or cost-saving measure, which would represent close to 25 per cent of the total climate benefit, achievable through the full implementation of all 16 measures on short-lived climate forcers.
A switch to more efficient cookstoves would save householders and communities the time and money, usually spent over the collection and purchase of firewood and other sources of fuel.
The cost of replacing traditional cookstoves with more environmentally-friendly ones may seem low by international standards. However, from the perspective of local users in developing countries, this cost may represent a financial burden.
Another report looks at ways to overcome such barriers and to link the implementation of such measures to national development plans.
Replacing conventional residential wood burning stoves in North America and Europe with pellet stoves and boilers would also offer important black carbon cuts—estimated at close to 2 per cent of the overall climate benefits.
Replacing traditional brick kilns with more efficient ones could trigger cost savings equal to around $7 a tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
Vertical-shaft brick kilns use about half the energy and, hence half the fuel costs, per brick made compared to the traditional kilns.
If there were a serious desire to control climate change then the fastest and most affordable steps to take are
1. Address all sources of soot.
2. Shift to factory mass produced buildings
3. Uprate existing nuclear power plants (regular uprates 15% and annular fuel uprates 20-80%)
4. Develop factory mass produced nuclear fission
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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