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Mitigation of Climate Change – Part 3 of the new IPCC report

Filed under: — stefan @ 17 April 2014

Brigitte Knopf_441B9424_Sep2012_web

 

 

 

Guest post by Brigitte Knopf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global emissions continue to rise further and this is in the first place due to economic growth and to a lesser extent to population growth. To achieve climate protection, fossil power generation without CCS has to be phased out almost entirely by the end of the century. The mitigation of climate change constitutes a major technological and institutional challenge. But: It does not cost the world to save the planet.

This is how the new report was summarized by Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Group III of the IPCC, whose report was adopted on 12 April 2014 in Berlin after intense debates with governments. The report consists of 16 chapters with more than 2000 pages. It was written by 235 authors from 58 countries and reviewed externally by 900 experts. Most prominent in public is the 33-page Summary for Policymakers (SPM) that was approved by all 193 countries. At a first glance, the above summary does not sound spectacular but more like a truism that we’ve often heard over the years. But this report indeed has something new to offer.

The 2-degree limit

For the first time, a detailed analysis was performed of how the 2-degree limit can be kept, based on over 1200 future projections (scenarios) by a variety of different energy-economy computer models. The analysis is not just about the 2-degree guardrail in the strict sense but evaluates the entire space between 1.5 degrees Celsius, a limit demanded by small island states, and a 4-degree world. The scenarios show a variety of pathways, characterized by different costs, risks and co-benefits. The result is a table with about 60 entries that translates the requirements for limiting global warming to below 2-degrees into concrete numbers for cumulative emissions and emission reductions required by 2050 and 2100. This is accompanied by a detailed table showing the costs for these future pathways.

The IPCC represents the costs as consumption losses as compared to a hypothetical ‘business-as-usual’ case. The table does not only show the median of all scenarios, but also the spread among the models. It turns out that the costs appear to be moderate in the medium-term until 2030 and 2050, but in the long-term towards 2100, a large spread occurs and also high costs of up to 11% consumption losses in 2100 could be faced under specific circumstances. However, translated into reduction of growth rate, these numbers are actually quite low. Ambitious climate protection would cost only 0.06 percentage points of growth each year. This means that instead of a growth rate of about 2% per year, we would see a growth rate of 1.94% per year. Thus economic growth would merely continue at a slightly slower pace. However, and this is also said in the report, the distributional effects of climate policy between different countries can be very large. There will be countries that would have to bear much higher costs because they cannot use or sell any more of their coal and oil resources or have only limited potential to switch to renewable energy.

The technological challenge

Furthermore – and this is new and important compared to the last report of 2007 – the costs are not only shown for the case when all technologies are available, but also how the costs increase if, for example, we would dispense with nuclear power worldwide or if solar and wind energy remain more expensive than expected.

The results show that economically and technically it would still be possible to remain below the level of 2-degrees temperature increase, but it will require rapid and global action and some technologies would be key:

Many models could not achieve atmospheric concentration levels of about 450 ppm CO2eq by 2100, if additional mitigation is considerably delayed or under limited availability of key technologies, such as bioenergy, CCS, and their combination (BECCS).

Probably not everyone likes to hear that CCS is a very important technology for keeping to the 2-degree limit and the report itself cautions that CCS and BECCS are not yet available at a large scale and also involve some risks. But it is important to emphasize that the technological challenges are similar for less ambitious temperature limits.

The institutional challenge

Of course, climate change is not just a technological issue but is described in the report as a major institutional challenge:

Substantial reductions in emissions would require large changes in investment patterns

Over the next two decades, these investment patterns would have to change towards low-carbon technologies and higher energy efficiency improvements (see Figure 1). In addition, there is a need for dedicated policies to reduce emissions, such as the establishment of emissions trading systems, as already existent in Europe and in a handful of other countries.

Since AR4, there has been an increased focus on policies designed to integrate multiple objectives, increase co‐benefits and reduce adverse side‐effects.

The growing number of national and sub-national policies, such as at the level of cities, means that in 2012, 67% of global GHG emissions were subject to national legislation or strategies compared to  only 45% in 2007. Nevertheless, and that is clearly stated in the SPM, there is no trend reversal of emissions within sight – instead a global increase of emissions is observed.

IPCC_WG3_SPM_Figure_9

Figure 1: Change in annual investment flows from the average baseline level over the next two decades (2010 to 2029) for mitigation scenarios that stabilize concentrations within the range of approximately 430–530 ppm CO2eq by 2100. Source: SPM, Figure SPM.9

 

Trends in emissions

A particularly interesting analysis, showing from which countries these emissions originate, was removed from the SPM due to the intervention of some governments, as it shows a regional breakdown of emissions that was not in the interest of every country (see media coverage here or here). These figures are still available in the underlying chapters and the Technical Summary (TS), as the government representatives may not intervene here and science can speak freely and unvarnished. One of these figures shows very clearly that in the last 10 years emissions in countries of upper middle income – including, for example, China and Brazil – have increased while emissions in high-income countries – including Germany – stagnate, see Figure 2. As income is the main driver of emissions in addition to the population growth, the regional emissions growth can only be understood by taking into account the development of the income of countries.

Historically, before 1970, emissions have mainly been emitted by industrialized countries. But with the regional shift of economic growth now emissions have shifted to countries with upper middle income, see Figure 2, while the industrialized countries have stabilized at a high level. The condensed message of Figure 2 does not look promising: all countries seem to follow the path of the industrialized countries, with no “leap-frogging” of fossil-based development directly to a world of renewables and energy efficiency being observed so far.

AR5_figure_TS.4

Figure 2: Trends in GHG emissions by country income groups. Left panel: Total annual anthropogenic GHG emissions from 1970 to 2010 (GtCO2eq/yr). Middle panel: Trends in annual per capita mean and median GHG emissions from 1970 to 2010 (tCO2eq/cap/yr). Right panel: Distribution of annual per capita GHG emissions in 2010 of countries within each income group (tCO2/cap/yr). Source: TS, Figure TS.4

 

But the fact that today’s emissions especially rise in countries like China is only one side of the coin. Part of the growth in CO2 emissions in the low and middle income countries is due to the production of consumption goods that are intended for export to the high-income countries (see Figure 3). Put in plain language: part of the growth of Chinese emissions is due to the fact that the smartphones used in Europe or the US are produced in China.

AR5_figure_TS.5

Figure 3: Total annual CO2 emissions (GtCO2/yr) from fossil fuel combustion for country income groups attributed on the basis of territory (solid line) and final consumption (dotted line). The shaded areas are the net CO2 trade balance (difference) between each of the four country income groups and the rest of the world. Source: TS, Figure TS.5

 

The philosophy of climate change

Besides all the technological details there has been a further innovation in this report, that is the chapter on “Social, economic and ethical concepts and methods“. This chapter could be called the philosophy of climate change. It emphasizes that

Issues of equity, justice, and fairness arise with respect to mitigation and adaptation. […] Many areas of climate policy‐making involve value judgements and ethical considerations.

This implies that many of these issues cannot be answered solely by science, such as the question of a temperature level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system or which technologies are being perceived as risky. It means that science can provide information about costs, risks and co-benefits of climate change but in the end it remains a social learning process and debate to find the pathway society wants to take.

Conclusion

The report contains many more details about renewable energies, sectoral strategies such as in the electricity and transport sector, and co-benefits of avoided climate change, such as improvements of air quality. The aim of Working Group III of the IPCC was, and the Co-Chair emphasized this several times, that scientists are mapmakers that will help policymakers to navigate through this difficult terrain in this highly political issue of climate change. And this without being policy prescriptive about which pathway should be taken or which is the “correct” one. This requirement has been fulfilled and the map is now available. It remains to be seen where the policymakers are heading in the future.

 

The report :

Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change – IPCC Working Group III Contribution to AR5

 

Brigitte Knopf is head of the research group Energy Strategies Europe and Germany at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and one of the authors of the report of the IPCC Working Group III and is on Twitter as @BrigitteKnopf

This article was translated from the German original at RC’s sister blog KlimaLounge.

 

Reaclimate coverage of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report:

Summary of Part 1, Physical Science Basis

Summary of Part 2, Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerability

Summary of Part 3, Mitigation

Sea-level rise in the AR5

Attribution of climate change to human causes

Radiative forcing of climate change


178 Responses to “Mitigation of Climate Change – Part 3 of the new IPCC report”

  1. 51
    Sterling925 says:

    @ William 41 & Chris 44

    In fact you are both right. William is correct if you reduce the emissions (~34.5 billion tonnes CO2 in 2012) by 6% of the PREVIOUS year’s emissions each year (2014 = 2013-6%, 2015=2014-6%, etc). While Chris is right if you reduce the annual emissions by 1.5% of 2012 emissions (half a billion tonnes) each year (2020=2019-.5 billion tonnes, 2021=2020-.5 billion tonnes). In both cases you get to about half a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2080. Chris zero’s out in 2081.

    Williams method is more ambitious on the front end cutting emissions in half by ~2026 while Chris’s takes until ~2048 to halve. Chris’s is the “easier” path. (Chris, I would panic if I were a whale ;-)

  2. 52
    Georgi Marinov says:

    SecularAnimist says:
    18 Apr 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Far from being “inadequate” compared to fossil fuels, the solar energy alone that we receive in one year — every year — is orders of magnitude greater than ALL the energy containted in all the fossil fuels and uranium on Earth. Likewise the energy available from wind every year is far greater than the energy contained in all the world’s supplies of fossil fuels and uranium.

    The resource is indeed vast but it is also dispersed over some 510 x 10^9 km^2. Solar arrays have a lifetime of a few decades, and you need hundreds of thousands, perhaps even more than a million square kilometers of them to meet the world’s current energy needs, an area you need to increase and increase together with future economic growth. Do you think we have the capacity to keep replacing millions of square kilometers of solar panels every 20-30 years indefinitely into the future? I personally highly doubt it.

    This is without going into the energy storage issue (still unsolved) and the fact that if energy usage keeps growing at 2-3% a year as it has so far, the planet will be cooked from the waste heat alone in merely a few hundred years (obviously something that is not going to happen but it is a useful thought experiment nevertheless)

    It also once again ignores the Liebig’s law of the minimum I mentioned above – let’s imagine by some miracle we are capable of replacing all fossil fuels with solar panels and continue economic expansions on a BAU course. This is highly unlikely because you will need to find much bigger sources of energy than what is needed to replace current fossil fuel use if you are to overcome mineral resource depletion (mining increasingly low-grade ores require increasingly larger amounts of energy), but let’s imagine it happens. It is still a death sentence for the planet because it means the complete collapse of its ecosystems due to the myriad other ways in which we are wrecking them other than climate change. There won’t be a wild animal bigger than a cat left outside of zoos and fish bigger than anchovies in the ocean within the next few hundred years if we continue on our present trajectory.

  3. 53
    William E. Rees says:

    SecularAnimist (#43) disagrees with my assessment of the contribution of renewable energy to the global energy budget stating that “the solar energy alone that we receive in one year — every year — is orders of magnitude greater than ALL the energy containted in all the fossil fuels and uranium on Earth. Likewise the energy available from wind every year is far greater than the energy contained in all the world’s supplies of fossil fuels and uranium.”

    This is true but not meaningful since we can capture only a tiny fraction of the global energy flow for economic purposes. There are differing data sets but the US Energy Information Agency is typical of mainstream assessments. EIA’s current reference scenario states that “Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5 percent per year. However, fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80 percent of world energy use through 2040” (http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/more_highlights.cfm).

    Now at 2.5% per year, the renewable energy component will increase by 85% by 2040, but non-hydro renewable will still only reach about 7% of total consumption by that year in the reference scenario. Including hydro, renewables contribute 16% (~26% of total electricity production).

    But the really important point is that far from declining rapidly toward zero, fossil fuel use is rising and is expected to dominate the energy budget for the foreseeable future.

    SecularAnimist also notes: “And the payback time on energy invested in building and deploying renewable energy technologies (e.g. solar panels and wind turbines) is a fraction of their productive lifetime.” Perhaps, but this is not good enough. These technologies also have to produce sufficient energy to mine and refine the minerals required to produce the equipment, machinery, infrastructure etc., needed to manufacture the alternative technologies themselves and then supply sufficient surplus energy to run the rest of the economy and society. If an alternative energy source cannot generate sufficient energy to produce everything needed to produce itself as well as provide for society’s other needs, it is not a viable energy source.

    Chris Dudley (#44) thinks “here is a problem with [my] numbers. A chunk of about 1.5% of present fossil fuel use must be cut each year to get to zero emissions by 2080, not 6%. Perhaps the year is a typo?”

    No typo. This is an error of interpretation. I wrote: “To effectively wean the world off fossil fuel by, say, 2080 would require 6% per year reductions in carbon emissions beginning immediately.” This does not mean that we should reduce fossil fuel use by 6% of present use each year. It means that we should reduce fossil fuel use (or, better, ‘carbon emissions’) by 6% in year one, reduce remaining use/emissions by 6% in year two and continue to reduce each subsequent remainder by 6% every year until we are close to zero. If we continued reducing emissions by 6% each year until 1980 (66 years) we would be down to less than 2% of current emission levels.
    PS: In my original communication I said “…just a .6% loss in GDP growth…” That should have been: “…just a .06% loss..”

  4. 54
    Fred Magyar says:

    “I mean, if we had to replace horses with oil and the only oil came from whales, would that really be a reason to panic?”

    If you were a whale it might be!

    I do not want to derail this thread from the topic at hand but I find that comment profoundly offensive. I happen to have close friends who work within the field of cognitive neuroscience and cetacean research so perhaps my perspective is more than a little bit biased. However I sincerely hope that both the moderators and participants in this conversation allow my comment to stand. My point in doing so is that we share this planet with other self aware beings and we do not have the right to continue destroying the ecosystem on which we both depend! We can do something about it but they can’t so the responsibility to fix the mess we have created is ours alone!

    Homo sapiens uber alles is not a concept I accept and arrogant self centered individuals who believe that everything on this planet is here for our benefit alone and should be exploited are, as far as I’m concerned, a very large part of the problems we are facing.

  5. 55
    Pete Best says:

    Re #44 – Chris – the numbers are not 1.5% for 2C (well a 50/50 chance anyway) and it all depends on which countries you are referring to. Annex 1 or others. China and India are indeed expanding and they probably will not peak until 2020-2030 at the earliest in their fossil fuel usage. This means that the Annex 1 countries need 10% per annum starting now.

  6. 56

    #14–That’s a borehole comment that has mysteriously slipped through moderation. MemeMine copy pastes this crap all over various news sites and never engages in actual consideration of anything reasonable. See, for instance:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mememine?action=comments
    https://disqus.com/mememine/
    http://staugustine.com/users/meme-mine

  7. 57
    DIOGENES says:

    William E. Rees #41 Mitigation of Climate Change – Part 3 of the new IPCC report,

    “To effectively wean the world off fossil fuel by, say, 2080 would require 6% per year reductions in carbon emissions beginning immediately. In the absence of safe effective carbon dioxide sequestration or assimilation technologies, this implies abandoning fossil fuels at a rate up to 6% yr.”

    To eliminate fossil fuel use by 2080, 66 years away, we need to reduce fossil fuel consumption by a non-compounded rate of 1.5%/year. That is essentially what the Ceres Clean Trillion plan does. With straight line consumption reduction, this means we would use the equivalent of 33 years full-time fossil fuel at today’s consumption levels by 2080. Do you believe we can afford to do that?

    The 6% fossil fuel reduction rate is what Hansen requires in addition to massive reforestation to keep the temperature from exceeding ~1 C. The combination is probably the minimum level of what is required to avoid ultimate catastrophe.

  8. 58
    wili says:

    People interested in this thread may also be interested to view a similar thread at neven’s sea ice forum: http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,828.msg24501.html#msg24501

  9. 59
    Hank Roberts says:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=William+E.+Rees
    may help Chris Dudley find the numbers if this is the same person (I don’t know that for sure). If so you’ll find cites on the publication page to sort out whose numbers come from what sources.

  10. 60
    Jef says:

    GDP is a meaningless measurement for assesing the future impacts of FF reduction. GDP itself is pretty meaningless, creating debt aka pulling money out of thin air is counted on the plus side as are all financial transactions even though they are extractive to the real economy. You could charge for not using energy and that would show on the plus side and show a growing GDP even though in reality less is produced.

    This report looks like something my son could have put together playing SimCity. It has no grip on reality.

    They are essentially saying we will have continuously less energy available for humanity and we will continuously pay much more for it but it won’t really effect society. BS!

    ANy aggressive build out of “alternative energy” infrastructure will require a significant INCREASE in FF use that would more than make up for reductions elsewhere, requiring massive amounts of aluminum, cement, copper, asphalt, and many more resources that are huge pollution emitters.

    ALternative energy devices are Fossil Fuel extenders. As long as we have FFs we can build and maintain alt eng devices.

    Please if we ever want to accomplish anything positive then lets admit the truth and work from there. One big truth is the only way to reduce CO2 is for everyone to do LESS and as long as the world revolves around exponential increase of debt thats not going to happen. All money everywhere must become more money or it goes away and what happens when your money goes away? You and your loved ones begin the process of dying much faster.

    Its the mindless belief in finance and technology that will be the end of us.

  11. 61
    Radge Havers says:

    Kevin, yeah he’s a drive-by, borehole regular. It seems that every once in a while the moderators crack open a window and let in some of the stench of the outside world. I take it as a reminder that these discussions are not just academic exercises.

  12. 62
    Roger Albin says:

    @32

    Mr. Yee – Nordhaus’ book has a number of virtues but I wouldn’t describe it as excellent. Nordhaus is a generally clear writer and explains a number of concepts well. The heart of the book, his explanation of economic modeling of climate change impacts, is definitely useful. As with his other books, however, this one contains some significant defects. Nordhaus has been, and is, consistently tardy in recognizing the potential adverse impacts of climate change. In this iteration, he has a fairly optimistic view of the agricultural impacts of climate change, rather different from the more expert analysis in the recent IPCC report. This has a distorting effect on the DICE model’s projections. I agree that the basic discussion of discounting is solid but this book also contains a tendentious defense of his controversial approach to discounting. This is not new for Nordhaus, his early 90s book, which is a more technical description of the construction of the DICE model, contains a similar defense, which is accompanied (in a footnote) by a remarkable implicit admission that his approach is a mistake. The final section, on politics of global warming, is surprisingly naive for an individual of Nordhaus’ stature and experience.

  13. 63
    Chris Dudley says:

    Hank (#45),

    I suspect a typo: 2080 instead of 2030. 8% annual cuts have been called for in the past based on ecological concerns. http://www.gp.org/earth-day-2006 RCP2.6 is a compromise along the lines of the Targets paper. As a coauthor of that earlier call, I can say that I’ve been surprised at the amount of cushion the ecological issues have in the new WG II report. Extinctions seem to be avoided while still pumping 270 GtC into the air. On the other hand, the advent of dangerous climate change flips priorities around a little. It is a little ironic. We were concerned about protecting bio-diversity, a statistical ensemble, but then the statistics of extreme weather turned around and started killing off individual humans in an attributable manner.

    An unfortunate consequence of the Afghanistan war is that we’ve picked up the local tradition of blood prices for collateral damage, so it is a little harder to call for much stronger cuts than the RCP2.6 scenario since human life has been turned into a transaction rather than something sacred. Bio-diversity remains something that should be preserved for the future however.

  14. 64
    William E. Rees says:

    SecularAnimist (#43) disagrees with my assessment of the contribution of renewable energy to the global energy budget stating that “the solar energy alone that we receive in one year — every year — is orders of magnitude greater than ALL the energy contained in all the fossil fuels and uranium on Earth. Likewise the energy available from wind every year is far greater than the energy contained in all the world’s supplies of fossil fuels and uranium.”

    This is true but not meaningful since we can capture only a tiny fraction of the global energy flow for economic purposes. There are differing data sets but the US Energy Information Agency is typical of mainstream assessments. EIA’s current reference scenario states that “Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5 percent per year. However, fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80 percent of world energy use through 2040” (http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/more_highlights.cfm).

    Now at 2.5% per year, the renewable energy component will increase by 85% by 2040, but non-hydro renewable will still reach only about 7% of total consumption by that year in the reference scenario. Including hydro, renewables contribute 16% (~26% of total electricity production).

    But the really important point is that far from declining toward zero, fossil fuel use is rising and is expected to dominate the energy budget for the foreseeable future.

    SecularAnimist also notes: “And the payback time on energy invested in building and deploying renewable energy technologies (e.g. solar panels and wind turbines) is a fraction of their productive lifetime.” Perhaps, but it is not enough to consider only the energy embodied in the panels and turbines. These technologies also have to produce sufficient energy to mine and refine the minerals required to produce and maintain the factories, machinery, infrastructure etc., needed to manufacture, transport, and install the generating equipment while supplying sufficient surplus energy to run the rest of the economy and society. If an alternative energy source cannot generate enough energy to produce everything needed to produce itself as well as provide for society’s other needs, it is not a viable energy source.

    Chris Dudley (#44) thinks “here is a problem with [my] numbers. A chunk of about 1.5% of present fossil fuel use must be cut each year to get to zero emissions by 2080, not 6%. Perhaps the year is a typo?”

    No typo. This is an error of interpretation. I wrote: “To effectively wean the world off fossil fuel by, say, 2080 would require 6% per year reductions in carbon emissions beginning immediately.” I did not mean that we should reduce fossil fuel use by 6% of present use each year. I meant that we should reduce fossil fuel use (or, better, ‘carbon emissions’) by 6% in year one, reduce remaining use/emissions by 6% in year two and continue to reduce each subsequent remainder by 6% every year until we are close to zero. If we continued reducing emissions by 6% each year until 1980 (66 years) we would be down to less than 2% of current emission levels. I am reducing at the same rate each year (geometric), you by the same amount (linear). Same goal, different approach, but again the world is doing neither.

    PS: In my original communication I said “…just a .6% loss in GDP growth…” That should have been: “…just a .06% loss..”

  15. 65
    drTskoul says:

    One comment. You can have BAU like emissions under a growth collapse scenario: massive deforestation if energy becomes too expensive or difficult to access (Indonesia, India, Southern Europe, Africa etc)

  16. 66
    Edward Greisch says:

    36 SecularAnimist: I pointed off site to a place where that subject can be discussed. Nuclear is off topic here and on topic at BNC. I am saying that all discussion of energy sources should take place on BNC. BNC does articles on all of them: renewable, fossils, nuclear. All Energy articles should be taken down from RC. ALL energy comments, not just pro-nuclear comments, should be moved to BNC. BNC writes articles on energy.

    For people who want to read and discuss energy, do it on BraveNewClimate.com. That way, RC can stick to climate science.

    RC is too tolerant of renewables comments on energy. RC should be more fair and even-handed even if that means strict: Strictly no comments either way, not allowing the putting down of nuclear while permitting unscientific comments favoring renewables. Make them all move to BNC.

    RC should keep its scientific integrity by not being soft on unworkable ideas that a lot of unqualified ecologists happen to like.

  17. 67
    Jon Kirwan says:

    [—Please remove my immediately prior post awaiting moderation and replace with the following one (Typo correction.)—]
    Just to add to DIOGENES (#46) above:

    Setting up the integral and accepting that the area under the curve should be 33 times current consumption going out to 66 years, I find the smooth, compounded rate to be about 2.415%. This gets down to 20% of current consumption in 66 years, with the area under the curve totaling 33X. A compounded rate of 6% reaches 16.35X (better) under the curve over 66 years and gets down to about 2% of current consumption by then. 2% is closer to an acceptable idea of “zero” than is 20%. So I can see where the 6% comes from. The linear rate of 1.5% works, of course. But that is small compared to current use now and VERY large compared to later use. The fixed 1.5% of today’s rate looks very, very large downstream when every little bit will matter more. If 33X is acceptable (I don’t think it is) over 66 years, the 1.5% today looks like a rate 7.5% in 66 years when use is 20% of today’s. Better to get on board with 2.4% now so that it still is 2.4% then, as well. Or better yet, 6% now.

    This needs to be front-loaded, not slid forward until the last moment when political realities will be still more difficult.

  18. 68

    There appears problem in the analysis. I need to read it once again to pinpoint that.

  19. 69
    DIOGENES says:

    Jef #56 – Mitigation of Climate Change – Part 3 of the new IPCC report,

    “ANY aggressive build out of “alternative energy” infrastructure will require a significant INCREASE in FF use that would more than make up for reductions elsewhere, requiring massive amounts of aluminum, cement, copper, asphalt, and many more resources that are huge pollution emitters.

    Alternative energy devices are Fossil Fuel extenders. As long as we have FFs we can build and maintain alt eng devices.

    Please if we ever want to accomplish anything positive then let’s admit the truth and work from there. One big truth is the only way to reduce CO2 is for everyone to do LESS”

    You make some excellent points here; switching to low carbon may not be a low carbon process. It would be useful to see a full energy accounting of switching to low carbon, including adverse environmental impacts that some posters have mentioned, and other aspects of trying to maintain near-present levels of consumption under a low-carbon environment. Doing LESS says it all!

  20. 70
    Chris Dudley says:

    I’ve been looking at some tables in Annex III of the report. http://report.mitigation2014.org/drafts/final-draft-postplenary/ipcc_wg3_ar5_final-draft_postplenary_annex-iii.pdf

    In Table A.III.1. Cost and performance parameters of selected electricity supply technologies

    I worry about a few entries. Construction time for Natural Gas Combined Cycle is given as 4 years, which seems pretty long for that type of plant. Perhaps they are assuming that a gas pipeline needs to be laid?

    Some of the plant lifetimes seem strange as well. Hydropower dams are known to last longer that 50 years while the next entry at 60 years seems aspirational given what we read in the news. There are CSP plants that are nearly 30 years old and still going, so the 20 year lifetime in the table seems hard to justify. Utility PV doesn’t just last 25 years either. And, with the bulk of the investment in offshore wind coming at the ocean floor, it hardly seems right to pin its life to onshore wind. Those installations will last much longer than 25 years.

    Levelized cost for onshore wind seems to have a tighter range and lower median than given in the table: http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/wind-energy-costs-2-2012_0.pdf and it looks as though utility solar is beating the lowest cost estimate in the table now: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/03/13/solar-sold-less-5%C2%A2kwh-austin-texas/

    If these two are beating levelized costs for some existing low emissions power sources, then competition should cut greenhouse gas emissions even if the old technology is driven out of the market. A market driven phase out might have the opposite sign to that of entry six in Table SMP.2 which presumably is safety policy driven.

  21. 71
    Chris Dudley says:

    William (#60),

    I took your wean to mean zero, thus my choice of functions. President Obama’s plan (83% overall) is for an annual 3.8% cut from 2005 to 2050 using your function. I expect that the following 30 years would have some flexibility in how to get where you’d like to get to. He does have a way point at 2020 which only demands a set of 1.2% cuts (geometric) over 15 years. So, he’d be shifting to 5.2% thereafter.

    Solar PV grew by 41% is 2013 and have been keeping up that kind of double digit pace for a while. http://www.pv-tech.org/news/gtm_and_seia_41_growth_in_us_solar_market_for_2013 Wind energy also has a strong growth rate but has a sawtooth response to tax policy: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/csteger/new_study_strong_wind_industry.html It seems as though those growth rates cover replacing fossil fuel generation. When SA gives to energy payback times, those include the mining and refining energy costs.

    You might enjoy running though a calculation that a trainload of solar panels delivers 200 times more energy than a trainload of coal. Berkshire Hathaway, be careful what you invest in….

  22. 72
    David B. Benson says:

    What Edward Greisch wrote @62.

  23. 73
    Walter says:

    #47 Sean Rooney says “most likely follow our lead.”

    America’s lead? What a joke. Anyone who follows America’s lead is a fool. American’s who still falsely believe you are a “leader” and should be followed are similarly foolish and not in touch with reality.

    Such misguided opinions about the world (most know nothing about) and your own self-importance within it, cannot imagine other people other nations being able to think for themselves and act without your grandiose opinionated input. Get a life! Or at least wake up. ….. “most likely follow our lead.” ???? what bollocks! YOU’RE the #1 damned Problem not the solution!
    Bruno Latour – The Affects of Capitalism http://youtu.be/8i-ZKfShovs?t=12m48s

  24. 74
    Chris Dudley says:

    In Chapter 7, I see a rather unwarranted claim that hydropower kills a lot of people. Flood control protects a lot of people over a long time. When it fails, people die. But those deaths are not spread over electricity generated the way fatalities from a gas plant explosion or coal mine accident should be. Overall those dams prevent fatalities by controlling floods and that is part of the reason they are built. Electricity generation is incidental. The source for this kind of thing comes from an industry that is known to spread a lot of misinformation. The IPCC should be much more careful in publishing such stuff.

  25. 75
    Chris Dudley says:

    “unqualified ecologists”

    ?

  26. 76
    David B. Benson says:

    Chris Dudley @74 — You are simply wrong but this is not the best web site to discuss the matter. See my prior comment.

  27. 77
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Georgi Marinov — 19 Apr 2014 @ 12:23 AM

    I, for one, would be appreciative it if you would provide a link to the source for your estimate of area required for an all PV solar world. I am only asking for the area. I think I remember that several years ago Gavin plotted the area on a globe, but I don’t know what the search terms might be to find it.

    Steve

  28. 78
    Chris Dudley says:

    Here is a paper which seems to indicate that adoption of new energy technology moves along pretty quickly. Found it referenced in Chapter 7 of the report. https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/40211/1/Wilson_ClimChange_FutureTechDiffusion_Nov12.pdf

  29. 79
    Edward Greisch says:

    I have a problem with this planning beyond 2080. Nobody has either confirmed or falsified Barton Paul Levenson’s unpublished paper “Preliminary Analysis of a Global Drought Time Series,” in which collapse is predicted some time between 2050 and 2055. The methodology is unconventional, following “Drought Under Global Warming: a Review” by Aiguo Dai
    atmos.albany.edu/facstaff/adai/
    But should that be a reason for not repeating the analysis?

    If 2050 is a cutoff date, the IPCC and RC are both hopelessly watering down the problem. The crash in the 2050s will end the carbon pollution. Can somebody tell me whether Levenson is right or wrong? Do you know for sure that there will still be a civilization in the 2080s?

  30. 80
    Edward Greisch says:

    I tried to put these 2 comments in before but something happened. I don’t know what. I hope I don’t wind up with duplicates.

    “This implies that many of these issues cannot be answered solely by science”

    I have a really big problem with that. Species survival is a universal value, universal to all species anywhere in the universe. The issue is easily answered by the new science of sociobiology. Sociobiology is the science of morality and ethics. Look it up in the Library of Congress. A temperature level that threatens the extinction of Homo Sap or even a population crash is clearly too risky. No politicians needed.

  31. 81

    Jef:

    “ANy aggressive build out of “alternative energy” infrastructure will require a significant INCREASE in FF use that would more than make up for reductions elsewhere, requiring massive amounts of aluminum, cement, copper, asphalt, and many more resources that are huge pollution emitters.

    If that were true, then we would see fossil fuel use rising in correlation with the exploding deployment of renewables. We don’t consistently see any such correlation: it exists in China, and to an extent in Germany, but not in Denmark or the US. Consequently, absent any forthcoming reference or support for the statement, I see no reason to believe it.

  32. 82
    Chris Dudley says:

    In Chapter 7 we see this (where LOCE is levelized cost of electricity):

    “The LCOE of many low‐carbon technologies changed considerably since the release of the IPCC AR4. Even compared to the numbers published in the SRREN (IPCC, 2011a), the decline of LCOE of some RE technologies have been significant.17 The LCOE of (crystalline silicon) photovoltaic systems, for instance, fell by 57% since 2009. Compared to PV, a similar, albeit less‐extreme trend towards lower LCOE (from the second quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2013) has been observed for onshore wind (‐15%), land‐fill gas (‐16%), municipal solid waste (‐15%), and biomass gasification (‐26%) (BNEF and Frankfurt School‐UNEP Centre, 2013).”

    Which seems rather incomplete since the negative learning curve of nuclear power has become very firmly established since AR4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421510003526

    Grubler points out that “while the nuclear industry is often quick to point at public opposition and regulatory uncertainty as reasons for real cost escalation, it may be more productive to start asking whether these trends are not intrinsic to the very nature of the technology itself: large-scale, lumpy, and requiring a formidable ability to manage complexity in both construction and operation. These intrinsic characteristics of the technology limit essentially all classical mechanisms of cost improvements””standardization, large series, and a large number of quasi-identical experiences that can lead to technological learning and ultimate cost reductions””except one: increases in unit size, i.e., economies of scale. In the history of steam electricity generation, these indeed led initially to substantial cost reductions, but after the late 1960s that option has failed invariably due to continued design changes (leading to higher material requirements per kW – the current EPR design being the most ”heavy”) and also increases in technological complexity.”

    And it is rather obvious that aquatic ecosystems surrounding nuclear power plants are under stress, so ever larger nuclear power plants are not really an option without expensive artificial ultimate heat sinks.

    It seems clear as well that growing knowledge of seismic risks adds to costs and existing plants may become uneconomical as happened with the Humboldt Bay reactor. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/nyregion/dozens-of-nuclear-reactors-must-prove-safety-under-revised-quake-estimates.html

    To make the AR5 paragraph complete the following should be added: “AR4 estimated LCOE from nuclear power of about $40 USD/MWh https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch4s4-4-2.html have more than doubled in the present report. http://report.mitigation2014.org/drafts/final-draft-postplenary/ipcc_wg3_ar5_final-draft_postplenary_annex-iii.pdf

  33. 83
    Chris Dudley says:

    David (#76),

    You don’t really ever contribute anything to this sort of discussion since you just spout stuff from industry propaganda sites which is just the problem infecting the WG III report.

  34. 84

    Here’s something that seems to me to be quite important in mitigation. File it under “energy efficiency”:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/21/passive-houses-help-norway-significantly-reduce-energy-consumption-carbon-emissions-research-shows/

    Although the case is stated for Norway specifically, this surely applies quite widely. Failing to consider passive heating/cooling when designing a new home is basically leaving money on the table, IMO–there are a significant options that have little effect on construction cost, such as suitable overhangs to shade summer windows, thus controlling unwanted heat gain–for one instance. (Deciduous trees can perform the same function, and frequently do.)

    Our next house is going to incorporate this in spades–and that’s not just hand-waving; I’m awaiting a design proposal right now.

  35. 85
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#84),

    The technical summary has this to say:

    “Advances since AR4 include the widespread demonstration worldwide of very low, or net zero energy buildings both in new construction and retrofits (robust evidence, high agreement). In some jurisdictions, these have already gained important market shares with, for instance, over 25 million m2 of building floorspace in Europe complying with the ‘Passivehouse’ standard in 2012. However, zero energy/carbon buildings may not always be the most cost‐optimal solution, nor even be feasible in certain building types and locations.”

    http://report.mitigation2014.org/drafts/final-draft-postplenary/ipcc_wg3_ar5_final-draft_postplenary_technical-summary.pdf

  36. 86

    Ed Greisch

    “Nobody has either confirmed or falsified Barton Paul Levenson’s unpublished paper “Preliminary Analysis of a Global Drought Time Series,” in which collapse is predicted some time between 2050 and 2055.”

    True. However, if you consult AR 5, Chapter, you’ll find that the picture is still not very clear–meaning that there is not at present a strong case for Barton’s extrapolation to be correct:

    Annual mean shallow soil moisture (Figure 11.14d) shows decreases in most subtropical regions (except La Plata basin in South America) and in central Europe, and increases in northern mid-to-high latitudes. Projected changes are larger than the estimated internal variability only in southern Africa, the Amazon region and Europe. Projected changes in runoff (Figure 11.14c) show decreases in northern Africa, western Australia, southern Europe and southwestern USA and increases larger than the internal variability in northwestern Africa, southern Arabia and southeastern South America associated to the projected changes in precipitation (Figure 11.12). Owing to the simplified hydrological models in many CMIP5 climate models, the projections of soil moisture and runoff have large model uncertainties.

    So it’s going to get drier in a lot of important agricultural areas, but how much and how soon are pretty uncertain. (It’s still being debated whether PDSI, the metric Dai used, is the best for evaluating drought–and it has been shown that results are sensitive to the metric used, so that’s more than academic.)

    I suppose it’s better than if we were definitely sure that what Lynas called “globe-girdling… drought” was bearing down on us, but uncertainty can be a false friend…

  37. 87
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Chris Dudley,
    I would note that Hank and David were making valuable contributions to the site long before you started posting here. Your lack of historical understanding causes you to say some really stupid things.

  38. 88
    David B. Benson says:

    Chris Dudley @83 — False again. There is ample factual information.

  39. 89
    Chris Dudley says:

    David,

    There are “facts” in the report that turn out to be wrong owing to a dying industry flooding the literature with wishful thinking and FUD against truly clean energy. False accusations against hydro power are typical.

  40. 90
    David B. Benson says:

    Regarding dams, here is Wikipedia’s list of failures:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dam_failure
    Note that the most serious was also a hydropower facility
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hydroelectric_power_station_failures
    which by standard use of unbiased statistical methods places hydropower well over in the dangerous category, along with thermal coal generators.

    This only took a few moments to find. It could more clearly be its own thread, for further discussion, on
    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/
    where it more easily would attract comment from competent engineers.

  41. 91
    Chris Dudley says:

    David (#90),

    More FUD. Concerning the worst disaster: “Construction of the Banqiao dam began in April 1951 on the Ru River with the help of Soviet consultants as part of a project to control flooding and electrical power generation. The construction was a response to severe flooding in the Huai River Basin in 1949 and 1950.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam

    The Dam was built for flood control. Electricity was incidental. Go post on your industry shill site. You seem to like echo chambers.

  42. 92
    Aaron Lewis says:

    The Arctic is warm enough that tundra is melting and releasing carbon. Now that temperature is above the melting point, we can expect rapid additional melting — regardless of human driven emissions of greenhouse gases in the future. Likewise, we have seen clathrate releases from the sea bottom and warmer water is already on its way from the tropics. Even if we stop human emissions promptly, past emissions will continue to warm the system and increase carbon feedback for the next 50 years. With recent and ongoing changes in albedo, such warming is non-trivial.

    However, albedo effects and carbon feedback are not in the models. We cannot predict the system’s full range of behaviors without considering albedo and carbon feedback. At this time we still do not know the timing or full extent of our risk from past emissions, much less future emissions.

    We were surprised by the Arctic sea ice decline in 2007. We were surprised by a series of extreme storms in the North East US, the Russian Drought/Pakistan flood in 2010 and the current California Drought. Now, it seems that all are tied to AGW, via changes in the jet stream. This change in the behavior of the jet stream is a big deal. These are extreme weather effects far ahead ahead of the IPCC timeline. The most serious issue neglected by the IPCC is that of large amounts of free water on top of the GIS. This means that the GIS is now inherently noncontinuous and cannot be modeled by equilibrium models. Violation of mathematical assumptions results in a chaotic failure of the model.

    As we go into AR5, it is clear that the IPCC never intends to consider the full range of feedbacks, and potential near term timelines of climate change. In particular, the IPCC does not have a useful model of ice dynamics.

    Your loyal Alarmist — It was 12 years ago that I brought up the topic of near term Arctic Sea Ice loss — and was called “Alarmist”

  43. 93
    wili says:

    Aaron at #92: Your alarm is shared by many, here and elsewhere.
    “April Will Be First Month With CO2 Levels Above 400 PPM”

    “The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high consistently was anywhere from 800,000 to 15 million years ago, various studies have estimated. And at that time, global temperatures were much warmer and sea levels were up to 100 feet higher.

    “Personally, I am alarmed,” Tans said.”

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/april-will-be-first-month-with-co2-levels-above-400-ppm-17331

  44. 94
    Chris Dudley says:

    One of the things I like about Table A.III.1 in Annex III is that CCS with natural gas has not been ignored. Most of the research effort on carbon dioxide capture has been aimed at coal, but as should be obvious, and as the table makes clear, CCS is easier with natural gas than with coal. The price of electricity comes out lower and the hit on fuel efficiency seems small.

    It also occurs to me that if we synthesize liquid fuels using renewable energy through hydrolysis to get hydrogen followed by catalytic reactions with carbon dioxide, we should have a stream of oxygen available from the other electrode that could be fed into gas turbines to avoid the need of separating carbon dioxide from nitrogen and argon in the exhaust as is presently required for CCS.

    It should be noted also that an interruptible liquid fuel synthesis role for renewable generation that covers aviation and some long haul shipping fuel needs, would make renewable energy mostly dispatchable and thus likely harmonizing the oxygen supply with load following needs from natural gas with CCS. Zero net emissions seems quite feasible so long as there is a place to put the captured carbon dioxide.

  45. 95
    Edward Greisch says:

    91 Chris Dudley: Don’t be insulting. BraveNewClimate is not an industry shill site and professor Benson is nobody’s shill. BraveNewClimate has articles equal to RealClimate’s, but on the subject of energy systems in relation to climate.

    Everybody would do well to actually do the required mathematics to prove and disprove the efficacy of energy systems in stopping GW. It happens on BNC. What happens on RC looks much more like marketing when the subject is energy.

    It is well known that there are psychological problems with energy subjects. Let’s work to undo the psychology. We are in far too much danger from GW to allow emotions to get in the way. So Let’s take those subjects to the appropriate sites. RC is about GW.

  46. 96
    DIOGENES says:

    Edward Greisch #95,

    “What happens on RC looks much more like marketing when the subject is energy.”

    You’ve got that right!

  47. 97

    #91–Chris, IMO your comment would have been much stronger without this:

    “Go post on your industry shill site. You seem to like echo chambers.”

    [See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/04/mitigation-of-climate-change-part-3-of-the-new-ipcc-report/comment-page-2/#comment-507250

  48. 98
    Chris Dudley says:

    Chapter 7 of the report mentions synthesis of methane:

    “Low CO2‐emitting natural gas substitutes can be produced from surplus fluctuating renewable electricity generation, e.g., ‘power to methane’ (Sterner, 2009; Arvizu et al., 2011), from other renewable sources such as biomass and waste, or via coal when combined with CCS; CCS can be added to gas production from biomass to further enhance CO2‐mitigation potential (Carbo et al., 2011). Provided the substitute natural gas meets the relevant gas quality standard (IEA Bioenergy, 2006, 2009; IPCC, 2011a), and gas cleanup may be required to achieve this, there are no technical barriers to the injection of gas substitutes into the existing gas networks (Hagen et al., 2001). Biomethane produced from a variety of sources is already being injected into a number of natural gas networks (IEA Bioenergy, 2011; IPCC, 2011a).

    But it does not mention synthesis of liquid fuels other than coal-to-liquid and natural gas-to-liquid methods. Given the high value of liquid fuels, they would seem to be an excellent target for pollution reducing efforts. (There is money rattling around.) The navy estimates it can produce jet fuel for $3 to $6 /gallon using the carbon dioxide dissolved in sea water and its shipboard nuclear reactors. In a European fuel tax environment, this is already competitive. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/04/08/u-s-navy-can-convert-seawater-fuel/

    Substituting low cost renewable energy for the naval reactor power may bring costs down further. While carbon dioxide (from coal plants) has been considered for use in a photosynthetically powered algal biodiesel production systems, the efficiency of solar panels over photosynthesis may make catalytic synthesis of liquid fuels the easier method. And, the oxygen stream produced in this manner has utility in reducing CCS costs.

  49. 99
    Chris Dudley says:

    Edward (#95),

    No, its a shill site with a bunch of fanbois gabbing about unworkable technology that they don’t understand. The main agenda is trying to get Australia to go nuclear. http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/barry-brook-bravenewclimate

    Want to be disinformed? Go play at bravenewclimate. It is about a genuine as clean coal.

  50. 100
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin (#97),

    Perhaps you are right. The initial “your wrong but I won’t say why” post had me annoyed.


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