World can get on the 1.5 C path for about a quarter of the cost of current fossil fuel subsidies

February 5, 2019

The world can meet the Paris climate targets at about a quarter of the cost of current subsidies for fossil fuels, according to a new climate study funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

The study, entitled Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement, is the culmination of a two-year scientific collaboration with 17 leading scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), two institutes at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the University of Melbourne’s Climate & Energy College.

It was funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and released by the scientific publisher Springer Nature. The model produced by the authors, called One Earth, offers a roadmap for surpassing the targets set by the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement,

According to Karl Burkart, Director of Innovation at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the One Earth climate model “is groundbreaking in that it shows the 1.5°C can be achieved through a rapid transition to 100% renewables by 2050, alongside land restoration efforts on every continent that increase the resilience of natural ecosystems and help to ensure greater food security.”

Lead author and editor Dr. Sven Teske, Research Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), said, “Scientists cannot fully predict the future, but advanced modeling allows us to map the best scenarios for creating a global energy system fit for the 21st century. And with momentum around the Paris Agreement lagging, it’s crucial that decisionmakers around the world can see that we can, in fact, meet global energy demand at a lower cost with clean renewables.”

The scientists at UTS created a sophisticated computer model of the world’s electrical grids to date, writes Burkart, “with 10 regional and 72 sub-regional energy grids modeled in hourly increments to the year 2050 along with a comprehensive assessment of available renewable resources like wind and solar, minerals required for manufacturing of components, and configurations for meeting projected energy demand and storage most efficiently for all sectors over the next 30 years.”

The result shows that “not only is it possible to switch to 100% renewables for all energy uses, but it will cost no more to operate than today’s energy system. Moreover, it will eliminate the toxic pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels, estimated to be the primary cause of 9 million premature deaths per year. The renewable energy transition will not only improve public health worldwide, it will also drive economic development, providing the 30 million people currently working in the energy sector with permanent, well-paying jobs and creating an additional 12 million new jobs.”

The proposed energy transition outlined in the One Earth climate model will require an investment globally of approximately $1.7 trillion per year, according to the study. Burkart notes that this amount “pales in comparison to the vast subsidies governments currently provide to prop up the ailing fossil fuel industry, estimated at more than $5 trillion per year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Taxpayers are unwittingly funding the climate crisis, and that needs to stop. The research tells us that we could be creating the clean energy future we so desperately need for less than one-third of what we’re spending now, and in so doing improve energy access in the developing world.”

Leonardo DiCaprio, Founder of LDF, said, “This ambitious and necessary pathway shows that a transition to 100% renewable energy and strong measures to protect and restore our natural ecosystems, taken together, can deliver a more stable climate within a single generation.”

According to Burkart, an important element in the One Earth model is the role of natural ecosystems. Justin Winters, Executive Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, said, “Nature is the missing key. While the renewable energy transition is imperative to solving the climate crisis, it isn’t enough. Currently wildlands and oceans absorb one-half of all our CO2 emissions. As this climate model shows, in order to keep global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C, we have to keep our natural carbon sinks intact, scale up restoration efforts and shift to regenerative agriculture. Without them we have no future.”

The climate model shows that by protecting natural ecosystems and completely phasing out deforestation in the 2030’s, we can maintain the integrity of the carbon sinks that are so vital to rebalancing our global climate system.

The newly released climate model is part of the larger One Earth initiative, launched by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 2017. The initiative builds upon the latest science to create a vision for the world that is possible in 2050, a world in which humanity and nature can coexist and thrive together. The vision is based upon three pillars of action – 100% renewable energy, protection and restoration of 50% of the world’s lands and oceans, and a transition to regenerative agriculture, all by 2050. “Together, these pillars of action give us a global roadmap to tackle the climate crisis and to ensure a sustainable future for all of Earth’s inhabitants,” writes Burkart.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation just announced a bold new plan to curb climate change: The One Earth Climate Model says we can curb temperature rises without resorting to nuclear power or using unproved technologies. It will be expensive–but far less than the subsidies we currently give fossil fuel companies.

BY ADELE PETERS, Fast Company, Jan 2019

https://www.fastcompany.com/90296468/leonardo-dicaprios-foundation-just-announced-a-bold-new-plan-to-curb-climate-change

A landmark climate report in late 2018 explained exactly what’s at stake if the world doesn’t limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, from the total loss of coral reefs to millions of people at risk from sea level rise. Now, a new report lays out a blueprint to keep warming in check– without, as many plans do, relying on controversial nuclear power or new technologies to capture CO2 (including machines that suck carbon dioxide from the air) that haven’t yet been proven at scale. The report says it can happen for far less money than we’re currently spending to subsidize fossil fuels.

In the project, called the One Earth Climate Model, funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s One Earth initiative, researchers had “the ultimate goal of finding a way to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 Celsius without resorting to geo-engineering or nuclear,” says Sven Teske, the project’s lead scientist and research director at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney. “The warnings from the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and the scientific community are clear: A world that warms beyond 1.5 Celsius is not one we want to inhabit.” The world has warmed about 1 degree Celsius so far, and we’re already seeing more catastrophic wildfires and flooding. The more the world heats up, the more existential risks we face.

The researchers took a detailed, bottom-up look at the energy sector, modeling each hour of energy use through 2050 on 72 regional energy grids, studying local solar and wind data, and projecting energy demand and the need for storage. They considered three scenarios. In one, based on projections from the International Energy Agency, they looked at how the world could continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels and warm an apocalyptic 5 degrees. In another, they modeled how the world could limit warming to 2 degrees. The last scenario looked at a 1.5-degree limit.

To stay under 1.5 degrees of warming, the report says, the world needs to move quickly to renewable energy, reaching 100% renewables by 2050. By 2020, we’ll need to be phasing out an average of two coal power plants every week. Heating, cooling, and transportation will have to shift to electricity on a massive scale. Energy use will have to become much more efficient, with total demand dropping by more than a third.

The changes in the energy system–all based on currently available technology–can get the world most of the way to the 1.5-degree target. “Negative emissions,” or sucking carbon out of the air, is necessary for the rest. While other climate models include new carbon-capture technology, the researchers found that planting and protecting forests could take up enough carbon to avoid unproven solutions. Through changes in land use, particularly large-scale reforestation in tropical forests and reducing logging, it’s possible to sequester around 150 gigatons of carbon dioxide. “Forests do a much better job as natural carbon sinks–and they are an asset for our planet that should be conserved for a wealth of reasons, which is why we propose the restoration of forests and a moratorium on deforestation within this generation,” Teske says. (The report acknowledges that this solution has risks, including the possibility that increasing wildfires burn down trees, or prolonged droughts mean that soil isn’t taking up as much carbon.)

A fast transition to renewable energy would also create more jobs than the business-as-usual path, the report says. By 2050, on a 1.5-degree pathway, the world would have 46.3 million energy sector jobs, versus 29.9 million in a 5-degree scenario. The transition would be expensive, with a cost of around $1.7 trillion a year. But governments currently spend an estimated $5 trillion a year to support fossil fuels, or $10 million a minute every day. Shifting to clean power could happen at a third of the cost.

The report makes it clear that it’s technically and economically possible to make the changes we need. The gap is political and social. “Staying below 1.5 Celsius is still possible, but it’s going to take radical action by governments to implement the right policy frameworks and public mobilization on an unprecedented scale if we’re to build the zero-carbon future that the world so desperately needs,” says Teske.

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world’s largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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https://www.rechargenews.com/transition/1680110/dicaprio-study-100-percent-renewables-will-save-trillions-of-dollars

The world could transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 at about a quarter of the cost of current subsidies for fossil fuels, according to a new climate study funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.

Investment in onshore and offshore wind, PV, concentrating solar power (CSP) and green hydrogen must be scaled up rapidly, alongside the electrification of transport and heat, while natural-gas networks must eventually be converted to run on green hydrogen in order to keep global warming to well below 2C, according to the authors of the report, entitled Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals.

The researchers — from the German Aerospace Center, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Melbourne — explain that the annual PV market must increase from close to 100GW in 2017 to 454GW by 2030; the onshore wind market must expand threefold to 172GW by 2025; while offshore wind installations must reach 32GW a year by 2050. CSP plants with storage, must play a far greater role than they do now due to their ability to provide 24-hour energy — increasing from an expected 3GW annual market in 2020 to 78GW by 2030.

The report envisages that by 2050, 64-65% of all power will come from variable renewables, with 27-29% from dispatchable renewables — namely, CSP, bioenergy, hydropower and geothermal. The remaining power will come from hydrogen.

Nuclear power, carbon capture and storage and “geoengineering” were not considered for the report due to their “major uncertainties in terms of social, economic or environmental consequences”. It also took a subtle dig at previous similar studies that “have relied upon technologies that are expensive and not proven at scale”.

Investment in power generation until 2050 will total about $50trn — $30trn more than a reference scenario — which includes meeting the increased demand for electricity from transport, heat and the production of hydrogen and other synthetic fuels. This figure does not include the cost of grid expansion, storage and other flexibility measures such as demand response. A recent study published in the journal World Development said global fossil fuel subsidies reached $5.3trn in 2015 alone.

Power markets will have to be redesigned to give priority dispatch to renewables and encourage storage and other flexibility measures, the study points out.

Other measures highlighted in the report include phasing out 618GW of coal-fired power plants by 2025; creating legally binding national targets for 100% renewables pathways; establishing minimum price on carbon; offering incentives to increase the take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) (including EV-only car parks and driving lanes); transforming cities to discourage passenger cars through pedestrianisation, cycle lanes and improved public transport; as well as massive deforestation. Governments must put their hands in their pockets to offer incentives for greener options, as well as to pay for research and development, the authors say.

The study also envisages that 90% of road vehicles will powered by electricity or hydrogen by 2050, with about 60% of buses and heavy-goods vehicles powered by batteries, a further 20% using fuel cells (powered by hydrogen or other synthetic fuels), and the remainder using synthetic fuel or biofuel. Synthetic fuels will also be needed for the shipping and aviation industries, it adds.

A transition to 100% renewable energy would also massively boost employment, the report adds. Under its 1.5C and 2C scenarios, the number of energy-sector jobs in 2050 will reach 46.3 million or 48.7 million, respectively, compared to about 30 million in a 5C scenario — roughly the same as today’s levels.

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As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5) released October 2018, the Earth must be kept below the dangerous threshold of 1.5°C in global average temperature rise above pre-industrial levels if we are to avoid a worsening of climate-related impacts. We are already seeing the devastating consequences of the current 1°C global temperature increase, including rising sea levels in many coastal cities, extreme storms, prolonged droughts, and intensified wildfires.

The impacts resulting from a higher 2°C level are almost unimaginable — the death of the coral reefs in every ocean, the collapse of nearly one-quarter of the world’s agricultural land, dramatically increased heat waves and wildfires, 100 million driven to extreme poverty sparking multiple refugee crises; and more than $11 trillion per year in damages from extreme storms and flooding. Stacked upon each other, these impacts and many more, could undermine the very fabric of life on our planet, greatly challenging the continuation of human civilization as we currently know it.

Up until now, it was assumed to be difficult if not impossible to achieve the carbon budget required to stay below 1.5˚C — equivalent to approximately 320 billion tonnes (Gt) of net carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) above early 2018 levels*.  Humans today release approximately 40 GtCO2 per year, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas. At our current level of emissions, we would only have 7 years to completely cease the use of all fossil fuels, which is clearly not feasible. While many scientists have modeled 1.5°C climate mitigation pathways, to date almost all of them require the use of unproven and potentially dangerous geoengineering strategies like Solar Radiation Management (SRM) or Bio-energy with Carbon Capture & Storage (BECCS).

The One Earth climate model is groundbreaking in that it shows the 1.5°C can be achieved through a rapid transition to 100% renewables by 2050, alongside land restoration efforts on every continent that increase the resilience of natural ecosystems and help to ensure greater food security. These restoration efforts pull carbon out of atmosphere and store that carbon in forests and in the soil, creating approximately 400 GtCO2 of what scientists call “negative emissions” (shown in gold below the zero line), which allow us to stay below the 1.5°C limit.

Lead author and editor Dr. Sven Teske, Research Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) said, “Scientists cannot fully predict the future, but advanced modeling allows us to map the best scenarios for creating a global energy system fit for the 21st century. And with momentum around the Paris Agreement lagging, it’s crucial that decisionmakers around the world can see that we can, in fact, meet global energy demand at a lower cost with clean renewables.”

Some have doubted that a transition to 100% renewables is even possible. To explore the potential, the scientists at UTS created a sophisticated computer model of the world’s electrical grids to date — with 10 regional and 72 sub-regional energy grids modeled in hourly increments to the year 2050 along with a comprehensive assessment of available renewable resources like wind and solar, minerals required for manufacturing of components, and configurations for meeting projected energy demand and storage most efficiently for all sectors over the next 30 years.

The result of the modeling effort shows that not only is it possible to switch to 100% renewables for all energy uses, but it will cost no more to operate than today’s energy system. Moreover, it will eliminate the toxic pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels, estimated to be the primary cause of 9 million premature deaths per year. The renewable energy transition will not only improve public health worldwide, it will also drive economic development, providing the 30 million people currently working in the energy sector with permanent, well-paying jobs and creating an additional 12 million new jobs.

The proposed energy transition outlined in the One Earth climate model will require an investment globally of approximately $1.7 trillion per year. This sounds like a lot, but it pales in comparison to the vast subsidies governments currently provide to prop up the ailing fossil fuel industry, estimated at more than $5 trillion per year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Taxpayers are unwittingly funding the climate crisis, and that needs to stop. The research tells us that we could be creating the clean energy future we so desperately need for less than one-third of what we’re spending now, and in so doing improve energy access in the developing world. 

Leonardo DiCaprio, Founder of LDF, said, “With the pace of urgent climate warnings now increasing, it’s clear that our planet cannot wait for meaningful action. This ambitious and necessary pathway shows that a transition to 100% renewable energy and strong measures to protect and restore our natural ecosystems, taken together, can deliver a more stable climate within a single generation.”

There are five major components to the renewable energy transition.

  1. First is increased capacity to generate electricity mostly through solar and wind power, enabling the electrification of all energy uses including power, heating, transportation, and even industrial uses.
  2. Second is increased storage capacity in the form of battery arrays and pumped hydroelectric (which uses excess generation to pump water up to a reservoir releasing the energy when needed).
  3. Third is energy efficiency – decreasing overall energy consumption, especially in the developed world, by making buildings, cities, and vehicles more efficient.
  4. Fourth involves repurposing the existing gas pipeline and storage infrastructure to deliver hydrogen produced by renewable sources.
  5. And fifth is a gradual retraining of the energy workforce to participate in the burgeoning green economy. 

The sixth major component of the climate model is land restorationCiting a growing body of research, we show that using land restoration efforts to meet negative emissions requirements, along with a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, give the world a good chance of staying below the 1.5°C target,” said Malte Meinshausen, co-author, Founding Director of the Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne and Potsdam Institute Fellow.

Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) include everything from restoring natural forests, grasslands, and wetlands to improving soil fertility through regenerative agricultural practices like agroforestry, silvopasture, and cover crops. These solutions not only absorb carbon, they also dramatically increase sustainable livelihoods in the developing world, offering improved water supplies, reduced soil erosion, and higher quality crop yields. 

 

The One Earth model shows just how important our natural ecosystems are. Justin Winters, Executive Director of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, said, “Nature is the missing key. While the renewable energy transition is imperative to solving the climate crisis, it isn’t enough. Currently wildlands and oceans absorb one-half of all our CO2emissions. As this climate model shows, in order to keep global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C, we have to keep our natural carbon sinks intact, scale up restoration efforts and shift to regenerative agriculture. Without them we have no future.”

The land use sector should be a big part of the climate solution. Unfortunately, because of rampant deforestation and unsustainable industrial agriculture and livestock practices, it is a net emitter of greenhouse gas pollution. Many efforts, like the New York Declaration on Forests, is working to halt deforestation, and UN Sustainable Development Goal 15 calls for an end to this destructive practice by 2030. The climate model shows that by protecting natural ecosystems and completely phasing out deforestation in the 2030’s, we can maintain the integrity of the carbon sinks that are so vital to rebalancing our global climate system.

The newly released climate model is part of the larger One Earth initiative, launched by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 2017. The initiative builds upon the latest science to create a vision for the world that is possible in 2050, a world in which humanity and nature can coexist and thrive together. The vision is based upon three pillars of action – 100% renewable energy, protection and restoration of 50% of the world’s lands and oceans, and a transition to regenerative agriculture, all by 2050. Together, these pillars of action give us a global roadmap to tackle the climate crisis and to ensure a sustainable future for all of Earth’s inhabitants. 

*The SR1.5 report calls for a carbon budget of 420 GtCO2 to achieve a good (66%) chance of staying below the threshold of 1.5˚C in global average temperature rise. The OE climate model estimates 100 GtCO2 of additional biosphere feedbacks resulting from an increase of 0.5˚C above current levels of warming. This figure is subtracted from the total budget to establish 320 GtCO2 in net emissions as the limit.

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Scotland Might Eliminate Climate Emissions By 2045

January 28th, 2019 by  in Clean Technica

Scotland could confidently end its climate emissions to reach net zero by 2045 according to a new report published last week which highlights the country’s abundant natural resources and existing ambition.

1 gw of wind power scotlandThe new report, “A Climate of Possibility: Harnessing Scotland’s natural resources to end our contribution to climate change,” was commissioned by WWF Scotland and conducted by Vivid Economics, and sets out pathways for Scotland to achieve net zero — the term given to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon capture options to the point that the net balance is zero.

Scotland has a particularly unique opportunity to achieve this target faster than other countries. Sweden has already set a net zero target for 2045 and New Zealand by 2050, and Scotland’s political ambition to match their peers is stronger than in many other places. The country’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Climate Change has committed to legislating for net zero as soon as a pathway has been identified, stating that “If the UK Committee on Climate Change advises us that a net zero target is now feasible…we will do it.”

As part of the United Kingdom, Scotland can still act on its own, but that is not to say that the UK is not also considering net zero policies. The UK’s Secretary of State has said that “The UK will need to legislate for a net-zero emissions target at an appropriate point in the future to provide legal certainty on where the UK is heading” and, working with the Scottish Government, have asked — in the wake of the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5°C — the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to analyze what the 1.5°C target might look like.

The new Vivid Economics report published by WWF Scotland, therefore, serves to provide insight into what achieving net zero for Scotland would mean, and finds that there exist multiple options for Scotland to deliver and exceed net zero by 2050 — even accounting for weaker development of greenhouse gas removal technologies. To reach net zero, according to the report, deep emissions reductions will be necessary across all sectors of the Scottish economy. This will require ramping up existing efforts in buildings, industry, and agriculture — sectors where Scottish emissions have been relatively slow. But there are also sectors where further action is possible and, therefore, necessary:

  • The power sector, transport and buildings sectors can all reach zero or near-zero emissions.
  • Emissions in industry can be reduced by at least 60% without reducing productive capacity.
  • Agriculture can reduce emissions by around 35% while maintaining current production levels. Farms will have a growing and crucial role in deploying carbon sinks to help offset emissions.
  • Carbon sinks have a critical role to play in balancing remaining emissions, and can even take us beyond net zero to -120% emissions reduction by 2050 with enough policy support and a strategic approach.

According to the report, if Scotland were to deploy all known emission reduction measures across its economy, it would emit around 13 MtCO2e per year in 2050. Compensating for these necessary emissions could be done through a range of greenhouse gas removal techniques which have a potential of not only delivering net zero, but net -31 MtCO2e of greenhouse gas reduction.

“We know that climate change is one of the biggest threats facing people and nature,” said Gina Hanrahan, head of policy at WWF Scotland. “To avoid the most dangerous consequences at home and abroad, we need to urgently cut our emissions and rapidly increase our carbon sinks through tree planting, restoring peatlands and improving the health of our soils.

“In the ten years since the previous Climate Change Bill we’ve already reduced emissions by nearly half and made truly incredible progress in cutting the carbon from our power sector. There’s still much to be done to ensure everyone in Scotland is living in a warm, low carbon home, can breathe clean air and that we are producing the best of low carbon food.”

“This report makes clear that there is a credible route-map for Scotland to achieve net zero in the 2040s,” Hanrahan continued. “We are laden with natural advantages for net zero. From our abundant renewable energy resource, to our large land area suitable for carbon sinks, to our history of innovation and skilled workforce, this new report shows we can hit net zero before other UK nations and be among the global leaders on this issue.”

“A strong long-term emission target can unlock low carbon opportunities for Scotland,” added Maarten Hage, Senior Economist, Vivid Economics. “In particular due to its large per capita land area, Scotland is well placed to pursue emissions reductions through afforestation and other low carbon land management practices. Although there is uncertainty as to the precise scope and scale of deployment, what is clear is that these options are vital to achieving net-zero and realising the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.”