A new study by the PWC consultancy group would be an excellent reading in a climate change course with a module on long-term policy making. PWC publishes a an annual report that assesses the prospects for limiting warming to 2C, based on a carbon budget that stabilizes carbon dioxide concentrations at 450ppm and provide a 50% probability of limiting warming to 2c. Among the take-aways from the study, Too late for two degrees? Low carbon economy index 2012:
- Global carbon intensity decreased by approximately 0.8% globally on an annual basis since 2000, a wholly inadequate trend from the perspective of avoiding the 2C threshold. As a consequence, global carbon intensity now needs to be cut by an average of 5.1% a year from now to 2050 to effectuate this goal. This is a rate of reduction that have NEVER been achieved in the past 50 years; As a consequence, the goal of remaining below the 2C threshold now seems “unrealistic;”
- Carbon intensity rates would have to quadruple from current rates to even avoid temperature increases of 4C above pre-industrial levels;
- The International Energy Agency is now considering both 4C and 6C scenarios as a result of the feckless responses of the world community to rising greenhouse gas emissions;
- Many developed countries are increasingly “outsourcing” their manufacturing needs abroad. While the GHG emissions of developing countries now exceed those of developed ones, the emission of the former would be adjusted downward if we accounted for the outsourcing of emissions;
- While lower prices for natural gas have facilitated a shift from more carbon-intensive energy sources, it may also be delaying the transition to renewable energy and nuclear sources, posing the threat of fossil fuel “lock-in;”
- Given the important of deforestation in contributing to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions (17% of total annual emissions), the world will need to de-couple deforestation and economic growth. Indonesia has been particularly successful in meeting this objective.
Among the discussion questions that might be pertinent to this reading:
- Should developing countries be permitted to trim back their emission reduction commitments since a portion of the increases in emissions reflect externalizing of manufacturing production by developed countries?;
- Given the fact that the world may have to live with temperature increases of 4-6C, should we shift the mix of funding for mitigation and adaptation initiatives further toward adaptation efforts?;
- What are the optimal approaches to de-couple economic growth in developing countries and deforestation?