Thursday, October 6, 2011

We have the tech to cut emissions by 85%. Your move, Roger.

Even as Roger Pielke Jr was decrying the folly (as implied by an updated version of the climate wedge analysis) of thinking we have the technology to reduce emissions today, eleven engineering organizations begged to differ:

The technology needed to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 already exists, according to a joint statement by eleven of the world’s largest engineering organisations.
The statement was presented on Friday 23 September to the South African Deputy High Commissioner ahead of December’s COP17 climate change talks in Durban.
The statement says that generating electricity from wind, waves and the sun, growing biofuels sustainably, zero emissions transport, low carbon buildings and energy efficiency technologies have all been demonstrated.  . . .
“We are now overdue for government commitment, with ambitious, concrete emissions targets that give the right signals to industry, so they can be rolled out on a global scale.”
The politics of emissions cuts are lagging behind the both the science and the technology. Professor Brian Schmidt, a 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics, is pessimistic:

“I think the evidence is quite strong that change is happening,” he said. “The science behind climate change predicts there should be a little change right now but in future, the prediction is it will be much more. I think we are going to do that experiment, so in 20 years from now we will see how good those models are.
It would be hard to bet against that prediction, politics-wise, but it is not inevitable. As the engineers are telling us, we have a choice. We have the technology to do the right thing. And when the right thing is politically unpopular, the thing we have to do is work ceaselessly to change the political calculation. Waiting for the public doesn't work: we are the public, and we can talk to the public, and persuade the public. How popular was abolition in the early days? Or women's suffrage? Or Prohibition? So let's not fall into the fallacy of taking the temperature of public opinion while we are trying to change it for the better.

The Future Climate 2 conference took place at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London on the 22-23 September 2011. The eleven engineering institutions that signed up to the joint statement were:
o   The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) (UK)
o   The Institution of Engineers (India)
o   The Association of German Engineers (VDI) (Germany)
o   The Japanese Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME) (Japan)
o   The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers (APESMA) (Australia)
o   The Danish Society of Engineers (IDA) (Denmark)
o   The Civil Engineer Organisation of Honduras (CICH) (Honduras)
o   The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers (Sweden)
o   The Norwegian Society of Engineers (NITO) (Norway)
o   The Finnish Association of Graduate Engineers (TEK) (Finland)
o   The Union of Professional Engineers (UIL) (Finland)

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