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Comment - Energy and Climate Change

The PwC view by David Flint

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published its latest Low Carbon Economy Index report in November 2012. It makes bleak reading. The key points are simply stated:

  • International conferences have declared that the rise in global temperature should be kept below two degrees. Greater increases have been declared 'catastrophic'.
  • To avoid this requires the world economy to reduce its carbon intensity, ie CO2 emissions per £1 million of GNP, by 5.1% pa for forty years.
  • This level of change is unprecedented. In the last ten years we managed 0.8% pa.
  • Therefore the change won't happen and global temperatures will rise by at least two degrees.
  • We are currently on course for an increase of over six degrees.
  • Even to keep the increase to four degrees would require us to reduce carbon intensity by 3% pa.
  • Therefore everyone should plan for a much warmer world.
There can be no doubt that PwC has got this right. Indeed, effects not included in the IPCC models - such as emissions of methane from the Arctic - probably make it over-optimistic. A more realistic approach might note that:
  • The rate of climate change may be much higher than expected.
  • Feedback effects may create a tipping point after which no
  • reduction in carbon intensity can do more than delay an increase to six or more degrees of warming.

    First published in the EGP members newsletter, February 2013

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ