By Robert H. Socolow and Stephen W. Pacala
- Today the world's coal, oil and natural gas industries dig up and pump out about seven billion tons of carbon a year, and society burns nearly all of it, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Two years ago the two of us provided a simple framework to relate future CO2 emissions to this goal
- In one future, the emissions rate continues to grow at the pace of the past 30 years for the next 50 years, reaching 14 billion tons of carbon a year in 2056
- In the other future, emissions are frozen at the present value of seen billion tons a year for the next 50 years and then reduced by about half over the following 50 years.
- To hold global emissions constant while the world's economy continues to grow is a daunting task
- For global emissions to be the same in 2056 as today, the carbon intensity will need to fall not half as fast but fully as fast as the global economy grows
- The task of holding global emissions constant would be out of reach
- Today's notoriously inefficient energy system can be replaced if the world gives unprecedented attention to energy efficiency
- To make the task of reducing emissions vivid, we sliced the stabilization triangle into seven equal pieces, or "wedges", each representing one billion tons a year of averted emissions 50 years from now (starting from zero today)
- The current pace of emissions growth already includes some steady reduction in carbon intensity. The goal is to reduce it even more
- Ending the era of conventional coal fired power plants is at the very top of the decarbonization agenda. Coal has become more competitive as a source of power and fuel because of energy security concerns and because of an increase in the cost of oil and gas
- Efficiency in electricity use is the most obvious substitute for coal. Of the 14 billion tons of carbon emissions projected for 2056, perhaps six billion will come from producing power, mostly from coal. Residential and commercial buildings account for 60 percent of global electricity demand today (70 percent in the U.S.) and will consume most of the new power
- To achieve one wedge, utilities need to equip 800 large coal plants to capture and store nearly all the CO2 otherwise emitted
- Nuclear power is probably the most controversial of all the wedge strategies
- Looming over this task is the prospect that, in the interest of energy security, the transport system could become more carbon-intensive
- To be sure, the dramatic changes we anticipate in the fossil-fuel system, including routine use of CO2 capture and storage, will require institutions that reliably communicate a price for present and future carbon emissions
- To freeze emissions at the current level, if one category of emissions goes up, another must come down
- Currently the industrial nations-the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)-account for almost exactly half the planet's CO2 emissions, and the developing countries plus the nations formerly part of the Soviet Union account for the other half
- Fortunately, the goal of decarbonizaion does not conflict with the goal of eliminating the world's most extreme poverty
- The world will have confronted energy production and energy efficiency at the consumer level, in all economic sectors and in economies at all levels of development
- Humanity will have learned to address its collective destiny-and to share the planet
In today's world, carbon has become a very serious issue as it is basically being pumped out everywhere with what we are doing to our planet. There have been goals being set to try and fix the issues of what Carbon is doing to the environment as it will continue to not stop anytime soon. If this terrible future is not stopped then we could most likely be on our way to a world suffocating from the carbon that we have created onto our planet. However this isn't an easy task as for global emissions to be the same in 2056 as today, the carbon intensity will need to fall not half as fast but fully as fast as the global economy grows. Many have said that this task is overall too difficult to do and many have said that it may be unreachable to be honest. The goal that has been set is to currently pace of emissions growth already includes some steady reduction in carbon intensity. Many groups are the cause of this rising issue for long periods of times such as the Former Soviet Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The world will have confronted energy production and energy efficiency at the consumer level, in all economic sectors and in economies at all levels of development.
In my opinion I have always seen carbon as a threat to the environment as since I could remember have been taught that to not use specific items as they all contribute to carbon being released into the atmosphere. Now that I have been presented facts on what I can expect to come on the amount of carbon levels in the air within the year 2056, I am now afraid of what there is indeed to come with how careless we can be with our own planet. We could possibly be worse than how we will be predicted to be living than we thought as the population will increase every year creating more individual leading to pollution. Who knows how many people we will have on the planet of Earth 2056, would we go pass the Earth's carrying capacity by then and will the planet look beautiful as it does from outer space? It is scary to even think about the idea of our world becoming an Environmental Nightmare that many have dread of. We must spread the word of what is going on around with our home before it is indeed too late to make a difference.