A war on climate change

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`Comment Cornucopia’ 

Ariel Bergmann

A war on climate change

The world needs to adopt the thinking of war, or more specifically enter into a wartime economic mindset if we are to properly tackle climate change, says Dr Ariel Bergmann, of the Centre for Energy, Petroleum & Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee. We are a world largely addicted to carbon-producing fossil fuels. Targets to make a significant shift to renewable energy sources are routinely missed and scepticism is already rife over whether goals that lie even 20 or 30 years in the future can ever be met. So what will it take for the world to shake its carbon addiction and successfully adapt to a new, cleaner, energy future? We need a World War II-scale realignment of the economy. Over those years, around three-quarters of the countries on the planet significantly changed their economies to participate in this war, as they felt the need was so great it had to be done. There was a wholesale shift in economies and a price that required a huge commitment from those societies, for example, in the UK we had food rationing. But they did it, and I am sure most people on the Allied side would say that it was worth it to defeat the evil that was in front of them. The challenge we face now in avoiding an even more detrimental temperature increase of the planet is even greater than that, and if we are to meet it then we will have to collectively show the same kind of will. There are few reasons to be optimistic this will happen. But, if we wanted to - if we really, really wanted to - the planet could largely be weaned off carbon fuels in the next ten years. We have the technology largely available, and while there would be some big, and expensive, challenges relating to energy storage in particular, it would be possible. The internationally agreed goals for 2050, to limit a rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees are now only 34 years away, and at the current levels of investment we won’t achieve those goals. There needs to be a change in approach and attitude, but there is a glaring gap between realising that and acting upon it.

Period12 Sep 2016

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