image credit: kleineolive (Wikimedia Commons)

Future fossil fuel infrastructure set to be built between now and 2060 will have the strongest effect on climate change, according to a report in the journal Science.

The global demand for energy is quickly rising, while political agreements and regulations to curb the resultant rise in greenhouse gas emissions have so far failed.

A new study from scientists in the US and Canada has calculated that most of the ‘key’ impacts of climate change could be avoided if no further CO2 power plants were built and that the real risks come from fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure which has yet to be built.

While previous policies have largely focused on regulating greenhouse gas emissions, a tactic that has so far not produced their desired results, the new study stresses the need for alternative sources of energy and technological innovation.

[T]he scientists applied a technique only available to those using computer simulations: They allowed today’s stock of carbon-dioxide emitters to operate for their full design lives, while at the same time slamming the door on any more CO2-emitting cars, trains, or power plants. To the team’s surprise, it found that if today’s patchwork assemblage of greenhouse-gas emitters were allowed to operate for their full design life, but then were shut down, global average temperatures would remain below the 2-degree threshold.

–The Christian Science Monitor

The researchers expected that current emissions would have already pushed CO2 concentrations over the 2-degree goal. Of course, the coal power booms in places like China and India mean that there will be no end to the global rise of fossil fuel emissions in the coming years. Yet the report’s focus on alternative energy sources – whether the development and implementation of green technologies or nuclear power – is an important perspective in the quest to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

For more on the story see the following article in the Christian Science Monitor:

Climate-change study: Today’s power plants aren’t the problem

And the original paper (pay) in the journal Science:

Future CO2 Emissions and Climate Change from Existing Energy Infrastructure

About The Author: Graham Land

Greenfudge editor and London-based writer Graham Land grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where he was part of the local hardcore punk scene, playing in several bands. Through this musical movement he became involved in grass roots interests such as anti-racist activism, animal rights and Ecology. In 2000 he relocated to Europe, eventually earning an MA from Malmö University in Sweden. He has also lived in Japan, Ireland, Portugal and Greece.



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