Happy Sunday, everybody. Let’s take a minute for some morning meditation about mitigation.
My knees don’t bend like that any more. Actually, they never did.
If you start with the assumption (and skeptics will call it a heroic assumption) that it is worth time and money to reduce human contributions to climate change, this week’s posts here , here, here, here, here and elsewhere on mitigation should show that it is possible with current technology to provide significant levels of mitigation at a cost of far less than 1% of global GDP per year.
By ‘significant’ I mean rapid progress towards meeting the Kyoto goal of 20% less than 1990 emissions by 2020. We will not achieve that goal, but we can get within signaling distance.
President Obama’s plan for the U.S. is well-designed to go after the low-hanging fruit–moving towards the elimination of coal as a fuel for power plants, rapid escalation of CAFE standards, maintenance of subsidies for renewables. If he can break the logjam preventing construction of nuclear power plants before he leaves office he will have done enough for his two terms. Assuming of course that the U.S. doesn’t stop there.
Improvements in energy efficiency, the Rodney Dangerfield of efforts to address climate change, can do a lot–easily able to reduce emissions by 5,300 mmts of CO2 out of the approximately 40,000 mmts we emitted in 2014. If we could magically replace coal with nuclear worldwide, that would eliminate another 10,000 mmts and we would be within striking distance of the Kyoto deal.
We cannot wave a magic wand and remove coal from the developing world’s plans. What we can do is provide technology assistance to make their use of coal as low impact as possible and work with them on speeding adoption of more efficient energy sources.
I also favor adoption of a carbon tax in those parts of the world that don’t have one yet. I recommend that it be revenue neutral and re-evaluated every decade against pre-agreed metrics and that it start at a low level ($12/ton in the U.S.)
The rest of the program should consist of Fast Mitigation efforts–planting trees, (lots of trees), attacking black soot, improving the technology of cement production and heightening the albedo of some parts of the earth’s surface.
There are longer term efforts we can’t ignore, such as continued investment in energy research, storage and distribution, and smaller scale efforts that can contribute at a 2% each level, such as dismantling no-fly zones left over from the Cold War, encouragement of telecommuting, uprating of turbines in hydroelectric facilities and increased adoption of CHP and ground source heat pumps in northern residences. We should also continue to encourage take-up of solar power and this encouragement should include subsidies.
Taken together, these measures would reduce human forcings dramatically and lower CO2 emissions to roughly 18,000 mmts by 2050.
I have written this series as a result of the invention of the derogatory term ‘mitigation skeptic’ used by the minions of the Konsensus against Lukewarmers. I have made this mitigation case in the past but it was scattered in comments across the blogosphere. Pulling the threads together I have noticed that neither the consensus nor their exploiters in the Konsensus have actually put together a coherent mitigation plan.
They’re welcome to any part of this that fits their fancy.