The consulting firm McKinsey & Company published a report on the various climate change mitigation options. Supported by major institutions like the WWF or the Carbon Trust this a huge source of information.
From the various renewables, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) to energy conservation and afforestation, all major solutions are studied in terms of costs and efficiency to decrease greenhouse gases emissions.
Today’s article will present you the main findings of this most interesting study – which can be downloaded for free on the company’s website – as well as some constructive criticism.
The report outlines five major types of solutions:
- Energy efficiency could account for 14 gigatons of CO2 (GtCO2) equivalent per year by 2030. This would take place in all sectors: from consumer electronics, to insulating buildings and improving transportation.
- Low carbon energy supply, could account for 12 gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030. This includes all renewables, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS)
- Forestry and agriculture could account for 12 gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030. Stopping deforestation and afforesting some of these lands are mentioned.
- Advanced technologies – costing more than 60€ per tonne of CO2 – could account for 5 more. Energy solutions that are currently too expansive are in this branch.
- Behavioral changes could account for 4 GtCO2 equivalent.
In a business as usual scenarios, global emissions would reach 70 GtCO2 equivalent by 2030. With all the above solutions, they could reach a level of 23 GtCO2 equivalent. (To be compared to current emissions of 45).
That’s right, halving our carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases emissions is possible by 2030.
This would mean that the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere would reach a maximum of 480 ppm and would stabilize in the long term at around 400 ppm. (Current levels are of 385 ppm).
Such an achievement would allow us to limit the increase of the average global temperatures to 2°C, the threshold advocated by the IPCC last year.
Now, let me criticize a bit this study. I find this study absolutely great but to me it underestimates greatly the possible cuts possible with behavioral changes. See why here.
Similarly, the amounts of possible cuts in insulating buildings is staggeringly minimized. We have seen that winterizing and insulating old housings can cut by a factor five their energy consumption. The invested sums are paid back within ten years with 2005 energy prices (not bad for investments that can last more than 30 years)
To infer this article I would like to note that this report is most likely due to play a major role in future discussions among environmentalists and policy makers at the Copenhagen meetings in December.
To learn out more, please refer to this page.
And you, what are your opinions on this report and its findings ? I look forward to reading your comments.