Is more tech the answer to climate crises? New study says yes

Is more tech the answer to climate crises? New study says yes

clean energy
ShutterstockRafomundo

The pace of the global rollout of clean technologies needs to increase tenfold, exceeding the pace of change seen in previous industrial revolutions, if the world is to have any chance of meeting the climate change targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

That is the conclusion of a new study from a team at Duke University, which compared the pace of change in per capita carbon emissions during the industrial revolution of the late 19th and early 20th century and the clean tech revolution that has been seen in recent years.

"Based on our calculations, we won't meet the climate warming goals set by the Paris Agreement unless we speed up the spread of clean technology by a full order of magnitude, or about 10 times faster than in the past," said Gabriele Manoli, a former postdoctoral associate at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study. "Radically new strategies to implement technological advances on a global scale and at unprecedented rates are needed if current emissions goals are to be achieved."

The Paris Agreement sets goals to keep global average temperature increases "well below" 2 degrees Celsius of warming and deliver a net zero emission economy this century.

However, experts have long warned that while global emissions growth has stalled in recent years as the deployment of clean technologies has accelerated, steep emissions reductions are needed in the coming decades to mitigate the risk of more than 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

The new analysis, published last week, details how per capita carbon emissions have increased about 100 percent every 60 years since the Second Industrial Revolution. This growth largely has been achieved through big jumps or "punctuated growth," where population growth and time lags in the spread of emission-curbing technological advances has led to a surge in per capita emissions growth.

"Sometimes these lags are technical in nature, but — as recent history amply demonstrates — they also can be caused by political or economic barriers," Manoli explained. "Whatever the cause, our quantification of the delays historically associated with such challenges shows that a tenfold acceleration in the spread of green technologies is now necessary to cause some delay in the Doomsday Clock.

"It's no longer enough to have emissions-reducing technologies. We must scale them up and spread them globally at unprecedented speeds."

The report comes just weeks after Bill Gates led a group of billionaire investors in the launch of a new investment fund designed to support the development of innovative next-generation clean technologies thought to be capable of delivering rapid and steep reductions in global emissions.

This story first appeared on: