February 17, 2013

14 Carbon Bombs

A new report from Greenpeace, "Point of No Return," highlights 14 "Carbon Bombs" scheduled for deployment over the next several years. They range "from massive expansion of coal mining in China, to large-scale expansion of coal exports from Australia, the US and Indonesia, to the development of risky unconventional sources of oil in the tar sands of Canada, in the Arctic, in the ocean off the coast of Brazil, in Iraq, in the Gulf of Mexico and in Kazakhstan, and to gas production in Africa and the Caspian Sea." To avoid a catastrophic warming, Greenpeace urges, "the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure needs to stop within five years."

Here is a rough map of the carbon bombs, stitched together from the Greenpeace report by Brad Plumer:

Greenpeace details, in the following figure, the expected results of business as usual approaches (warming of 5 to 6 degrees C by 2050, the red line) and the emissions reductions required in order to have a 50% chance of keeping a temperature rise under 2 degrees (the orange line), and that required in order to achieve a 75% chance of meeting that target (the bottom line, whose color I cannot quite make out.)

Greenpeace emphasizes that all is not lost; solutions exist. The following two figures show "realistic deployments" by 2020 for coal and oil by way of efficiency improvements and large-scale investments in various renewables.

How realistic these "realistic deployments" are is a key question. They are to be contrasted with BP's projections for growth in energy demand to 2030 by region, primary use, and fuel.

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