A report published today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that a dangerous level of climate change will be upon us if fossil fuels are not phased out by 2100.
The report suggests that most of the world’s electricity needs must come from low-carbon sources by 2050, or the Earth will face “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage.
Renewable energy sources have been heavily invested in during recent years, but currently only make up 30% of the power industry. The IPCC’s report suggests this needs to drastically change – with a target of 80% being recommended by 2050.
The report is a frank and clear summary of the causes, impacts and potential action to be taken in respect to climate change, and will hopefully spur politicians and scientists around the globe to act. It suggests the use of carbon capture and storage (CSS) to make use of the carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, rather than allowing it to build up. Research into this area is ongoing, but very few commercial plants are carrying this technology out successfully at the moment.
The alternative is to take on research in the area of renewable energy – and many groups are doing just that, with work into areas such as solar cells and hydrogen storage being very popular currently. Perhaps it is also the time for governments to revisit the area of nuclear power, and look into developing safe and efficient nuclear plants which can replace the fossil fuel power stations currently in use.
One thing is for sure – it’s not only up to the governments around the world, but to us as scientists to keep the research into low-carbon energy ongoing, and keep this matter in the forefront of the world’s considerations. Otherwise, we may find ourselves in an unpleasant future that we could have prevented.