Post-COP28: What Now? Waiting for the Sky to Fall? - Africa’s premier report on the oil, gas and energy landscape.

Post-COP28: What Now? Waiting for the Sky to Fall?

By Gerard Kreeft

Instead of a narrative from myself I find it best suited to give attention to Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), which has aptly described, in summary fashion, the state of our little planet Earth and provided a sobering roadmap. I have taken the liberty to quote literally CMI’s narrative.

The key is building a Stabilization Triangle (see below).

The Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) is an independent academic research programme that brings together scientists, engineers and policy experts to design safe, effective and affordable carbon mitigation strategies. Sponsored by bp and administered by the High Meadows Environmental Institute, CMI is Princeton university’s largest and most long-term industry partnership. Since its inception, CMI has been committed to the dissemination of its research findings in peer-reviewed academic literature so they may benefit the larger scientific community, government, industry and the general public.

Building the Stabilization Triangle

We already have the technology we need to take the world off the path toward dramatic climate change.

Carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning are projected to double in the next 50 years (Figure 1), keeping the world on course to more than triple the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration from its pre-industrial level. This path (black line) is predicted to lead to significant global warming by the end of this century, along with decreased crop yields, increased threats to human health, and more frequent extreme weather events.

In contrast, if emissions can be kept flat over the next 50 years (orange line), we can steer a safer course. The flat path, followed by emissions reductions later in the century, is predicted to limit CO2 rise to less than a doubling and skirt the worst predicted consequences of climate change.

Keeping emissions flat for 50 years will require trimming projected carbon output by roughly 8Billion tons per year by 2060, keeping a total of 200Billion tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere (yellow triangle). We refer to this carbon savings as the stabilization triangle.

To keep pace with global energy needs at the same time, the world must find energy technologies that emit little to no carbon, plus develop the capacity for carbon storage. Many strategies available today can be scaled up to reduce emissions by at least 1Billion tons of carbon per year by 2060. We call this reduction a wedge of the triangle (Figure 2). By embarking on several of these wedge strategies now, the world can take a big bite out of the carbon problem instead of passing the whole job on to future generations.

We Have the Technology

Each of the 15 strategies below has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by at least 1Billion tons per year by 2060, or 1 wedge. A combination of strategies will be needed to build the eight wedges of the stabilization triangle.

EFFICIENCY

  1. Double fuel efficiency of 2Billion cars from 30 to 60 mpg.
  2. Decrease the number of car miles traveled by half.
  3. Use best efficiency practices in all residential and commercial buildings.
  4. Produce current coal-based electricity with twice today’s efficiency.

FUEL SWITCHING

  1. Replace 1400 coal electric plants with natural gas-powered facilities.

CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE

  1. Capture AND store emissions from 800 coal electric plants.
  2. Produce hydrogen from coal at six times today’s rate AND store the captured CO2.
  3. Capture carbon from 180 coal-to-synfuels plants AND store the CO2.

NUCLEAR

  1. Add double the current global nuclear capacity to replace coal-based electricity.

WIND

  1. Increase wind electricity capacity by 10 times relative to today, for a total of 2Million large windmills.

SOLAR

  1. Install 100 times the current capacity of solar electricity.
  2. Use 40,000 square kilometers of solar panels (or 4 million windmills) to produce hydrogen for fuel cell cars.

BIOMASS FUELS

  1. Increase ethanol production 12 times by creating biomass plantations with area equal to 1/6th of world cropland.

NATURAL SINKS

  1. Eliminate tropical deforestation.
  2. Adopt conservation tillage in all agricultural soils worldwide.

No one strategy will suffice to build the entire stabilization triangle.

New strategies will be needed to address both fuel and electricity needs, and some wedge strategies compete with others to replace emissions from the same source. Still, there is a more than adequate portfolio of tools already available to build the stabilization triangle and control carbon emissions for the next 50 years.

Gerard Kreeft, BA (Calvin University, Grand Rapids, USA) and MA (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada), Energy Transition Adviser, was founder and owner of EnergyWise.  He has managed and implemented energy conferences, seminars and university master classes in Alaska, Angola, Brazil, Canada, India, Libya, Kazakhstan, Russia and throughout Europe.  Kreeft has Dutch and Canadian citizenship and resides in the Netherlands.  He writes on a regular basis for Africa Oil + Gas Report, and guest contributor to Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). His book ‘The 10 Commandments of the Energy Transition ‘is on sale at https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000211674846/Gerard-Kreeft-The-10-Commandments-of-the-Energy-Transition

 

 

 

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