What is the purpose of the UN IPCC climate reports when they have insane economics and do not provide any remotely reasonable action plans, goals or priorities?
There are many simpler steps that can be taken that can pay for themselves by improving health, saving lives and lifting up the poor. There are steps that can be taken by removing carbon on a large scale while also creating massive amounts of food.
After I describe how much IPCC is asking for and the effect beyond the money, I will describe fixes that are partially underway but underfunded and which can be scaled up while being compatible with civilization of today.
How many trillions is in the IPCC plan?
In 2018, IPCC said limiting global warming to 1.5°C would need annual average investment needs in the energy system of around 2.4 trillion USD2010 per year between 2016 and 2035 representing about 2.5% of the world GDP. $48 trillion of investment. They do not talk about how many more trillions are needed from 2036-2100.
So 2016-2018 has already passed and it would take years to adjust the supply chain to enable any vast energy system transformation mobilization. $2.4 trillion is 41% more than world military budgets of $1.7 trillion. IPCC as using 2010 dollars so that probably makes the asked spending 50% more than all of the worlds military budgets.
Besides asking for more money than in military budgets, the IPCC basically is asking for all people to turn their lives and countries and economies upside down. It is the difference asking someone for reallocating 2% and getting a higher return and asking for 100%.
In 2014, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that efforts to stabilize levels of greenhouse-gas emissions would require investments of about $13 trillion from 2015 through 2030. It also noted that reducing emissions would reduce the rate of economic growth (as a result of such factors as higher energy prices). Switching from fossil fuels to low-carbon sources of energy would cost $44 trillion between now and 2050.
Global investment in renewable energy (Solar, Wind, Hydro and biofuel) edged up 2% in 2017 to $279.8 billion, taking cumulative investment since 2010 to $2.2 trillion.
China spent $126.6 billion on renewable power. This was the highest figure ever and more than 45% of the global total. China 53GW installed with solar investment of $86.5 billion, up 58%. Renewable energy investment in the U.S. was down 6% at $40.5 billion. Europe had a decline of 36% to $40.9 billion.
Total global energy investment totaled USD1.8 trillion in 2017 which was a 2% decline in real terms from 2016. More than $750 billion was spent on the electricity sector last year, while $715 billion was spent on oil and gas supply.
Over the past five years, nuclear plants with a total capacity of over 40 GWe have obtained permission to extend their operational lifetime beyond 40 years, the report notes. Investment over that period averaged around USD7 billion – three times more than over the previous five years.
“Assuming these plants run an extra ten years, generation from lifetime extensions over the past five years is equivalent to 15% of expected lifetime output from solar PV and wind investments over the same period, at just 3% of the cost,” the IEA said. “At 20 years of long-term operation, the output from these upgrades would be equivalent to one-third of expected lifetime output from the solar PV and wind investments.”
About $10-40 billion per year in support would keep existing nuclear plants competitive natural gas and coal.
Nuclear power in the USA helped avoid 550 million tons of carbon per year from fossil fuel.
Fix 80% black carbon within 12 years for less than $500 billion
Black carbon has a warming impact on climate 460-1,500 times stronger than CO2 per unit of mass.
The average atmospheric lifetime of black carbon particles is 4-12 days.
About 6.6 million tonnes of black carbon were emitted in 2015.
Household cooking and heating account for 58% of global black carbon emissions.
Action on soot and methane has all of the temperature impact from now to 2040. CO2 intervention impacts the 2050 and beyond.
$100-200 billion fix for 25% of black carbon
Around 2.8 billion people cook using polluting open fires or simple stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal. Each year, close to 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene.
Black carbon is the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2 and burning solid fuels for cooking and heating in homes produces approximately 25% of total black carbon emissions. Since the atmospheric lifetime of black carbon is only a few days, reducing black carbon emissions can bring about a more rapid climate response than reductions in greenhouse gases alone. In addition, unsustainable harvesting of wood for fuel not only contributes to forest degradation, but is a major driver of climate change when burned in inefficient stoves. These woodfuel emissions account for 2% of global emissions, the equivalent of the entire aviation sector.
With 1,800 partners that make up the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, more than 80 million households have gained access to clean and/or efficient cookstoves and fuels as of the end of 2016.
Larson (2014) estimates that the global net benefits of switching from traditional to various improved cookstoves (ICS) lies between $18 to 54 billion per year.
The IEA projects that a total investment of $95 billion will be needed to achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030, amounting to annual global investments of $4.5 billion. To achieve universal access to clean cooking by 2030, the IEA estimates the need for $95 billion over two decades. The Global Energy Assessment (GEA) report places the funding need at $36–41 billion annually over the same time period to achieve universal electricity and clean cooking energy access, with over 20% of the total being attributed to cooking.
Fixing 75% of black carbon from transportation
One-fifth of global anthropogenic BC emissions are estimated to originate
in the transport sector.
A 75 percent reduction in black carbon emissions by 2030 would contribute to delivering a 0.5 degree reduction in near-term average warming. Diesel engines accounted for 88% of black carbon (BC) emissions from road transport in 2010.
China has requiring all new trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles powered by diesel would have to meet Euro VI equivalent emissions standards from 2021, ensures that two-thirds of the world’s new heavy-duty diesel vehicles will be soot-free in three years’ time.
Most effective means of addressing CO2 is to rapidly grow a lot of kelp
The world will overshoot 1.5 degrees and overshoot 2 degrees. This is obvious. All of those plans for stabilizing involve massive CO2 removal.
The best CO2 removal is to scale up ocean aquaculture to the near the level of land agriculture.
The oceans are 70% of the earth’s surface and it is vital to fixing climate.
25% of the land is covered with farms. We will need to use 9% of the oceans for ocean farms for kelp, fish and shellfish.
It will also be better to grow our own fish instead of mass hunting for wild fish. Just like we do on land. We do not hunt buffalo anymore. We raise cows.
We already grow 25 million tons of kelp- seaweed each year. This is a $5 billion a year industry. We can make this 1000 times bigger.
BTW: when they talk about carbon sequestering from carbon capture at plants they do not emphasize that you would need to build separate pipeline systems for sending the captured carbon back into the ground. This would end up being 2-4 trillion tons of gases stored back into reservoirs where we took out oil and natural gas. This would have to built everywhere and would be as large as the existing oil and gas industry because it would be in reverse. Also, the solar and wind part of a solution would also be massive and take up a lot of land.
We grow a massive new industry instead of proposing to rip up existing civilization.
Kelp grows 30 times faster than trees.
Seaweed farms buffer the ocean’s growing acidity and provide ideal conditions for the cultivation of a variety of shellfish.
If 9% of the ocean were to be covered in seaweed farms, the farmed seaweed could produce 12 gigatonnes per year of biodigested methane which could be burned as a substitute for natural gas. The seaweed growth involved would capture 19 gigatonnes of CO₂. A further 34 gigatonnes per year of CO₂ could be taken from the atmosphere if the methane is burned to generate electricity and the CO₂ generated captured and stored.
What might a kelp farming facility of the future look like?
Dr Brian von Hertzen of the Climate Foundation has proposed a frame structure. It is mostly carbon polymer, up to a square kilometer in extent and sunk far enough below the surface (about 25 meters) to avoid being a shipping hazard. Planted with kelp, the frame would be interspersed with containers for shellfish and other kinds of fish as well. There would be no netting. Robotic removal of encrusting organisms would probably also be part of the facility. The marine permaculture would be designed to clip the bottom of the waves during heavy seas. Below it, a pipe reaching down to 200–500 meters would bring cool, nutrient-rich water to the frame, where it would be reticulated over the growing kelp.
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.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.