I wrote this post for Skeptical Science.
My recent post about long-term CO2 targets was rather doom-and-gloom: I concluded that we must phase out fossil fuels to keep the climate in the range that humans have experienced. The good news is that action on this scale is not only possible but surprisingly feasible.
Last year, the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute in conjunction with Beyond Zero Emissions produced the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan. The ZCA2020 Plan outlines an ambitious and inspiring vision: to power Australia with 100% renewable energy in ten years.
The report that has been released only covers emissions from Stationary Energy (though it does refer to electrifying transport). Five future reports are planned on how to eliminate emissions from other sectors (Transport, Buildings, Land Use and Agriculture, Industrial Processes, and Replacing Fossil Fuel Export Revenue).
Why do it, and why now?
As I’ve explained here, to prevent “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” we must reduce CO2 to below 350 ppm. That necessitates a rapid transition to a zero-carbon economy.
A common approach is to define a quota of allowable future global emissions to limit warming to less than 2°C above predindustrial levels, and divide them up by nation per capita. At Australia’s current rate of emissions, we will use up our share of the global budget in just five years (the same goes for the US and Canada). This gives Australia about a decade to make the transition. Read the rest of this entry ?