Fossil fuel funded groups have stymied efforts in the US to make any headway at all on carbon emissions. But a Paris based group, the International Energy Agency (IEA), says we can limit the damage to a relatively manageable rise of 2° C (3.6° F) by the end of this century, if we wake the fuck up:
Christian Science Monitor — The agency estimates that the aggressive global approach it recommends could slash that 2020 emissions excess to a far more manageable 900 million tons.
Some 49 percent of that reduction would come from tighter energy-efficiency standards on everything from cars and home appliances to industrial motors and heating and cooling equipment. Another 21 percent could come from reducing reliance on – or simply not building – coal-fired power plants that use the least-efficient technology. Some 18 percent of the emissions reductions would come from plugging methane leaks at oil and natural-gas refineries and in pipelines. Finally, 12 percent of the reductions could come from a partial reduction in subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry.
“We identify a set of proven measures that could stop the growth in global energy-related emissions by the end of this decade at no net economic cost,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, the report’s lead author, in a statement. “Rapid and widespread adoption could act as a bridge to further action, buying precious time while international climate negotiations continue.”
A rise of 2° C by the year 2100 is a big, big jump in a very short time. That graph above is scored in 0.2° C intervals and stretches sideways across 10 centuries. To see a global average 2 degrees warmer wouldn’t be a hockey stick anymore, it would be more like a scythe, it would take us back way before the the Middle Ages, maybe to the Miocene, which lasted from about 22 to 5 MYA, or earlier. For one thing, it probably means no permanent ice-caps, only seasonal accumulations at the North and South Pole. How long it would take the Antarctic to lose several KMs of surface ice is an interesting question. It might take thousands and thousands of years. But that’s a big rise, it will mean adapting to a measurably different planet.