On Stabilization Wedges Theory – Details & comments


Stabilization WedgesAs I wrote on this post, I will give today the details on the 15 wedges as well as some general comments on the Stabilization Wedges Theory.

The fifteen wedges :

Here are the fifteen wedges as summarized by Wikipedia :

  1. efficient vehicles ? increase fuel economy from 30 to 60 mpg for 2 billion vehicles,
  2. reduce use of vehicles ? improve urban design to reduce miles driven from 10,000 to 5,000 miles per year for 2 billion vehicles,
  3. efficient buildings ? reduce energy consumption by 25%,
  4. improve efficiency of coal plants from today’s 40% to 60%,
  5. replace 1,400 gigawatts of coal power plants with natural gas,
  6. capture and store carbon emitted from 800 gigawatts of new coal plants,
  7. capture and reuse hydrogen created by #6 above,
  8. capture and store carbon from coal to synfuels conversion at 30 million barrels per day,
  9. displace 700 gigawatts of coal power with nuclear,
  10. add 2 million 1 megawatt windmills (50 times current capacity),
  11. displace 2,000 gigawatts of coal with solar power (700 times current capacity),
  12. produce hydrogen fuel from 4 million 1 megawatt windmills,
  13. use biomass to make fuel to displace oil (100 times current capacity),
  14. stop de-forestation and re-establish 300 million hectares of new tree plantations,
  15. conservation tillage ? apply to all crop land (10 times current usage).

Some possible additional wedges :

As Pr. Socolow and Pacala mention in their article :

(…) our list of mitigation options is not exhaustive.

Which is a good thing, because, I, as a Masters graduate in International Management, have a couple of ideas that are not present in the Stabilization Wedges Theory.

  • First, even if solar thermal is not present in the original article, it has to be developed. This energy is easily accessible to people and companies from all regions of the world. Indeed, solar thermal can be implemented globally.
    Hence, Germany which is not the sunniest country in the world is among the top countries concerning the production of solar thermal energy. (Learn out more about solar).
  • Second, geothermal, hydro and other renewable energies have to be developed too. Indeed, when energy efficiency is developed, this kind of energies are very interesting (Learn out more).
  • Absence of air transportation. Planes are an important emitter of carbon dioxide (see the page on the website of the European Parliament for more information)
  • But new technology without new habits from people won’t do the trick. So working on global mass awareness of climate change and the need for humankind to decrease its energy consumption could provide half a wedge or at the maximum one full wedge.
    Technology indeed reached developments undreamed of in the latest 50 years, but meanwhile the energy consumption exploded. So without any change of consuming habits, all the technology in the world won’t do the trick.

Reduce to seven or to two GtC (Gigatons of Carbon) per year ?

But my main comment or idea of improvement of this grand theory doesn’t concern the various wedges. This lies in the goal to be achieved. As a young French largely interested in climate change, I always read that we have to decrease by a factor two on a global scale and a factor four for developed countries the global greenhouse gases by 2050.

This is explained by Jean Marc Jancovici on his website, www.manicore.com in the articles “How fast can we decrease our energy consumption ? ” as well as in ” What amount of CO2 should each of us be allowed to emit ?”. Mr. Jancovici is an engineer specialised in all questions pertaining to climate and energy and quite renown in France. I will soon talk about his latest book.

See also why the French Government is willing to decrease local emissions of carbon dioxide by a factor four.

Indeed Earth can absorb two GtC per annum when we are emitting seven. So stabilizing the carbon dioxide at seven GtC (Gigatons of Carbon) per year by 2050 seems might prove to be not sufficient.

So why not implementing additional wedges or multiplying the importance of some wedges, so our global emissions could reach two GtC per year in 2050 ? Why not taking the ten most promising wedges and apply them instead of seven ?

Tomorrow, we will see what are the wedges I would take to solve the climate change.

For further reading, please go to this page :

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