The debate as to whether Climate Change is a real threat or just another beat up, is well and truly over.
But time and allowable emissions are running out fast and far from wishing to sound too alarmist, we are not only heading for the rocks but actually drifting among them. There are plenty of hands on the wheel but as yet, there is no one truly at the helm.
Despite pledges, over 20 Conference of the Parties (COPs), international agreements, government rebates, feed in tariffs, vigorous promotions by solar, wind plus carbon capture storage (CCS) suppliers, we still do not have a viable game plan.
Whatever sovereign states decide to do in regard to de-carbonising will possibly be only damage control as we will not get back to pre-Industrial Revolution conditions in the foreseeable future.
Globally we are emitting around 40 Giga-tonnes of CO2 per year at an annual growth rate of around 2.15% We will also be emitting more to provide the alternatives to fossil fuels, at least initially.
Somehow, to have any tangible way forward we have to assign equitably among nations the remainder of what the IPCC advise is the allowable emissions to have a better than two thirds chance of maintaining a tolerable climate, equitably among all nations. This quantity has been termed the Carbon Budget and it is decreasing year on year as we continue to use our atmosphere as a waste dump. At best we have two decades at current rates of emissions. At worst we have far less.
Just how to divide up this Carbon Budget is likely to generate much dialogue, political argument and resistance. It seems to be a subject barely addressed. Instead we get a plethora of ad-hoc unenforceable commitments to reduce emissions by so much, by some arbitrary time in the future. Whether or not any of these will meet the IPCC's Carbon Budget requirements seems rarely, if ever, to be taken into account. And yet if we don’t meet it the whole collective de-carbonising objective the result will be a catastrophe, as well as a massive waste of money.
So two points that are pivotal in this issue are:
We need a plan for Australia and we need to make informed choices. For a summary of the issues around climate change and the great energy challenge we face to meet this shared global challenge download our free PDF eBook here.