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The Two Degree Dilemma

Credit: PhotoSG/Adobe

Credit: PhotoSG/Adobe

By Evan Gray

We’ve agreed to limit the rise in global temperature to 2°C, but how will we do it?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

At the United Nations Climate Conference in December 2015, world leaders agreed to limit the global average temperature rise to 2°C, and to work towards an even lower rise of 1.5°C. The big question is: how?

Can we keep burning fossil fuels but capture the carbon dioxide generated? Is a world powered by renewable energy feasible? Should we build more nuclear power stations?

Pundits on all sides of the energy debate insist on these and other solutions, but we hear little about whatever evidence exists for their impact on a global scale. Let’s look at the evidence and how it relates to the 2°C goal.

The 2° Scenario

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2°C scenario envisions a transformation of the global energy supply to cut CO2 emissions by almost 60% by 2050 compared with 2013. This has at least a 50% chance of limiting the temperature increase to 2°C.

Realising the 2°C scenario requires first that emissions of CO2 fall very swiftly. Continuing to emit CO2 at the present rate and recapturing it from the atmosphere is not an option because no existing technology can be scaled up fast enough.

The immediate and urgent challenge is therefore to greatly diminish CO2 emissions. This implies rapid deployment of energy generators that emit little or no CO2, either because they don’t generate any during operation or because their...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.