The latest from the IPCC is a deep dive into solutions: policies & technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I chat with one of the co-authors about the lessons of the report & what kind of work would be most useful from the IPCC in the future.
At one point in this conversation, there is a chat about getting to 100% carbon-free grid, using geothermal or nuclear as flexible or dispatchable baseload.
Capital costs for baseload, nuclear in particular, are very high, so if it is not operated at high load factors, that carrying cost may be exorbitant against a small amount of power generated. Both are typically steam or rankine cycles which may take a while to ramp up and down. This may be addressed by newer features, but those features may add capital costs, etc. Where renewables can be produced to excess, a grid with backup "goes engines off," sends power-to-x, and charges short, medium and maybe long term storage. That "long term storage" doesn't really exist now, so it is fossil fuel backup generation, but in the future can be the same or similar engine generator using "electro fuel." If renewables are at $0.03/kWh, and the backup is only 10% or 15% of the annual load, then the electro fuel-generated power can cost $0.25/kWh and it won't matter too much. A grid with 15% fossil fuel contribution, serving 80% electrified heat and vehicles, is a hell of a lot better than a 70% fossil fuel grid and 99% fossil fuel heat and vehicles.
I'm in CO where we have great wind and solar availability, and we could add to our PHES, and get near 15% fossil fuels quickly. But as Ms. Jaramillo points out, there are places without these resources. CT should not shut down it's big nuclear plant.
"Things are getting worse and worse, and better and better, faster and faster," Lou Leonard, former VP on Climate at the World Wide Fund for Nature (World Wildlife Fund) circa 2013. Lou is now at Dean at Falk School of Sustainability & Environment Chatham Univ
Wind power produced more electricity than coal and nuclear sources for first time ever
Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY - 6h ago This headline appeared 6h ago from when I posted this comment! What does everyone think?!
Unfortunately, there is no accounting for the carbon released through forest fires or other "natural" events within a nation. The fires in Australia, Brazil, the USA, or Russia do not get put on anyone's balance sheet. When carbon is not measured, it is not a part of the data for modeling and projecting future climate change.
Military emissions are also absent. The US armed forces are the highest emitter for the government, and not accountable for their emissions. Other nations are less transparent than the US.
The situation is made worse by political rhetoric--why should we lower our carbon when China, India, and other major emitters do not? The argument should be to cover all the unmeasured and unaccounted emissions that we put into the atmosphere. Each nation that can, should exceed their minimums by as much as is technically possible, as there will be future "unforeseen" emissions, and nations unable to ever balance their emissions due to a lack of resources. Tonga is not going to ever be able to balance emissions from their recent volcano, nor is it likely that Chile ever can.
It remains amazing to me that this elephant herd is ignored as though it never has existed, nor ever will. There is a general hand-waving dismissal as these factors cannot be understood nor their measure known. That is not likely true at all. We have enough statistical and enough computing power to readily arrive at reasonable estimates for projection purposes, and it would help move us towards greater efforts at carbon reduction if we did do this.
Why? Because then nations like Australia and the US would be motivated to greater efforts at reducing carbon from known carbon sources to remain leaders in the planet wide effort. These nations, and many others like them, could do so much more. Instead they ask for what will be a passing grade--not what would be relevant to future generations.
Such efforts might stimulate the science and engineering of fire reduction. Instead of doing a minimal amount to reducing fires in the western states, the US might be motivated towards an exceptional effort to mitigate forest fires, practice water conservation, and generally improve the ecology--as opposed to the minimal efforts to day to slow the degradation of the same resources.
"...it’s still possible to meet the target of keeping global warming below 1.5° Celsius..."
According to whom, Boris Johnson? Not according Dr. James Hansen, the "Grandfather of Climate Change Awareness", who believes we will almost certainly blow through +2°C:
"In A Realistic Path to a Bright Future, one of us (Dr. Hansen) described UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s claim that COP26 salvaged the chance to keep global warming below 1.5°C as 'pure, unadulterated bulls**t. There is now no chance whatever of keeping global warming below 1.5°C.' Johnson also said:
'while there is still so much that needs to be done to save our planet, we’ll look back at COP26 as the moment humanity finally got real about climate change.'
Really? Where did he get that idea? Perhaps from COP26 President Alok Sharma, who, after
the summit, said
'We can say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees within reach, but its pulse is weak.'
Where did Sharma derive his claim of credibility? From climate models? Who was informing Sharma? It’s possible to get almost any answer from models by inserting appropriate greenhouse gas scenarios, but models have a problem called GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. Climate models are essential and valuable for understanding climate change, but they form only one of the three legs of the tripod that climate knowledge stands firmly upon. The other two are Earth’s paleoclimate history, which climate models must be consistent with, and ongoing observations of climate forcing factors and climate system response."
And why is even +2°C in doubt?
"The underlying reason for the great overshoot of the 2°C scenario is failure of the world to
develop a clean energy system for electricity. Instead, the West – or at least the liberal West –
has adopted the fantasy of 100% renewable energy within decades, in which both nuclear power and fossil fuels are eliminated. Further, the West has instructed the developing world that it, too, must follow this fantasy. Consequently, President Clinton terminated research and development on nuclear power in the United States after his election in 1992. Germany, as the host nation for COP6 in Bonn in 2001, excluded nuclear power as a clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol. Now, financing for fossil fuel or nuclear power plants is being denied to developing countries, even though the West used those energies to raise its own standards of living and continues to use those energies as needed to maintain living standards..."
"Real world utility experts conclude that renewable energies must be complemented by reliable baseload electricity generation available 24/7 – either fossil fuels or nuclear. For the sake of climate, the partner of renewables had better be nuclear power, not fossil fuels."
Dr. James Hansen, Director
Columbia University Earth Institute, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions
1977 Goddard Special Achievement Award (Pioneer Venus)
1978 NASA Group Achievement Award (Voyager, Photopolarimeter)
1984 NASA Exceptional Service Medal (Radiative Transfer)
1989 National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award
1990 NASA Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive
1991 University of Iowa Alumni Achievement Award
1992 American Geophysical Union Fellow
1993 NASA Group Achievement Award (Galileo, Polarimeter/Radiometer)
1996 Elected to National Academy of Sciences
1996 GSFC William Nordberg Achievement Medal
1996 Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for Geophysical Research Letters
1997 NASA Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive
2000 University of Iowa Alumni Fellow
2000 GISS Best Scientific Publication (peer vote): “Global warming – alternative scenario”
2001 John Heinz Environment Award
2001 Roger Revelle Medal, American Geophysical Union
2004 GISS Best Scientific Publication (peer vote): ‘Soot Climate Forcing’
2005 GISS Best Scientific Publication (peer vote): ‘Earth’s Energy Imbalance’
2006 Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
2006 GISS Best Scientific Publication (peer vote): ‘Global Temperature Change’
2006 Time Magazine designation as one of World's 100 Most Influential People.
2007 Laureate, Dan David Prize for Outstanding Achievements & Impacts in Quest for Energy
2007 Leo Szilard Award, American Physical Society for Outstanding Promotion & Use of Physics for the Benefit of Society
2007 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award
2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility
2008 Nevada Medal, Desert Research Institute
2008 Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Science
2008 Bownocker Medal, Ohio State University
2008 Rachel Carson Award for Integrity in Science, Center for Science in the Public Interest
2009 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, American Meteorological Society
2009 Peter Berle Environmental Integrity Award
2010 Sophie Prize for Environmental and Sustainable Development
2010 Blue Planet Prize, Asahi Glass Foundation – shared with Robert Watson
2011 American Association of Physics Teachers Klopsteg Memorial Award for communicating physics to the general public
2011 Edinburgh Medal from City of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Science Festival
2012 Steve Schneider Climate Science Communications Award
2012 Foreign Policy designation as one of its Top 100 Global Thinkers
2013 Ridenhour Courage Prize
2013 NASA Distinguished Service Medal
2014 Center for International Environmental Law’s Frederick R. Anderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to
Addressing Climate Change
2014 Walker Prize, Museum of Science, Boston
2017 2017 AAG Honorary Geographer, American Association of Geographers
2017 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Climate Change, Spain – shared with Suki Manabe
2018 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development – shared with Veerabhadran Ramanathan