2018.4.14 #climate change #carbon #mitigation #sustainable development #SDGs
Towards the 1.5 °C target: negative emission technologies essential, or alternative pathways?
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere is a controversial and largely untested negative emissions technology that has come to dominate pathways under discussion towards 1.5 °C. People argue that it relies highly on underground CO2 storage and compete for land with food production and biodiversity protection.
Is it an essential tool to protect us from the wrath of global climate change?
A new paper published on Nature Climate Change instead used integrated assessment models (IAMs) to explore deep mitigation alternatives, like lifestyle changes, agricultural intensification and lab-grown meat, as well as an even more rapid adoption of renewables and energy efficiency.
The author argues that "although these alternatives also face specific difficulties, they are found to significantly reduce the need for CDR, but not fully eliminate it. The alternatives offer a means to diversify transition pathways to meet the Paris Agreement targets, while simultaneously benefiting other sustainability goals."
IAMs are generally designed to be "cost-optimal", prioritising low-cost solutions as the main driver although could be modified to include technical, political or social barriers to deployment. They are just among many other tools. A range of other options for cutting emissions have generally been excluded from previous work as well, like soil carbon management and "rapid forced closure of fossil-fuelled power plants". It also worth asking ourselves: is a world without economic growth possible?
More to be explored, and hopefully the decision makers won't be gambling too far or too fast into CDR or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
More analysis please refer to the Carbon Brief report.