(97a) Global Climate Change-the Sustainability Challenge


Population growth and developmental pressures, spawned by an increasing demand for resource intensive goods, foods and services, are altering the planet in ways that threaten the long-term well being of humans and other species. The presentation discusses the role that climate change plays in challenging long-term sustainability. It also identifies the factors that are responsible for potentially unsustainable global impacts, including climate change. Transparent modeling tools and the most recent literature are used, to quantify the challenge posed by climate change and potential technological remedies. This presentation aims to provide a succinct integration of the projected warming the earth is likely to experience in the decades ahead, the emission reductions that may be needed to constrain this warming, and the technologies needed to help achieve these emission reduction. Factors driving CO2 emissions, the importance of key countries especially China, and how different emission trajectories could affect warming this century are analyzed. It is concluded that it is too late too avoid substantial warming; the best result that appears achievable, would be to constrain warming to about 2.0 ºC (range of 1.3 to 2.7 ºC) above pre-industrial levels by 2100. In order to constrain warming to such a level, the current annual 3% CO2 emission growth rate needs to transform rapidly to an annual decrease rate of from 2 to 3% for decades as soon as possible. Also presented is a sector-by-sector summary of mitigation options, and R&D priorities. Summary information will be provided for the critical power generation and transportation sectors. The importance and challenges associated with carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal-fired power generation will be discussed.  It is concluded that the current generation of energy generation and end use technologies are capable of achieving less than half of the emission reduction needed for such a major mitigation program. New technologies will have to be developed and deployed at a rapid rate, especially for the key power generation and transportation sectors. Current energy technology research, development, demonstration and deployment programs fall far short of what is required, although there has been recent funding increases which are significant.  Of particular significance is the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). It is a new and promising Department of Energy program, focusing on "transformational' advances in energy technology.