Mitigating greenhouse: Limited time, limited options

All authors:
Moriarty, P., Honnery, D.
Host organisation: CoE Melbourne, Australia
Publication year: 2008
Published in:
Energy Policy, Vol. 36: 1251—1256.
Research theme: Environment and Climate Change, Policy and Planning
Keywords:
energy reductions, global climate change, social eficiency
Type:
Research article
Summary:
Most human-caused climate change comes from fossil fuel combustion emissions. To avoid the risk of serious climate change, very recent research suggests that emission reductions will need to be both large and rapidly implemented. We argue that technical solutions - improving energy efficiency, use of renewable and nuclear energy, and carbon capture and sequestration-can only be of minor importance, mainly given the limited time available to take effective climate action. Only curbing energy use, perhaps through 'social efficiency' gains, particularly in the high-energy consumption countries, can provide the rapid emissions reductions needed. The social efficiency approach requires a basic rethinking in how we can satisfy our human needs with low environmental impacts. Large cuts in emissions could then occur rapidly, but only if resistance to such changes can be overcome. Particularly in transport, there are also serious potential conflicts between the technical and the social efficiency approaches, requiring a choice to be made.
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