Climate policy should focus on reducing emissions

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Depending on ‘geo-engineering’ to tackle global warming is a “dangerous delusion” which “may not provide substantial benefits and will undoubtedly be accompanied by unforeseen adverse consequences”, writes Vicki Arroyo in an article for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The September article states that “we are running out of time” and that “a Herculean effort” – including the stabilisation of atmospheric greenhouse gases at less than a doubling of pre-industrial levels – will be required to avoid consequences of global warming such as “loss of species, irreversible breakdown of ice sheets” and the toll on humans of “more intense heat waves and hurricanes”. 

Arroyo believes that “solutions that exist now” have the best chance of success, such as current renewable, energy efficiency and nuclear technologies. However, these will not “curb emissions growth sufficiently” without the right policies to ensure that they are deployed “on the necessary scale”. 

She describes emissions trading as a “key policy” that is “suited to curbing greenhouse gases”. Combining cap-and-trade with efficiency standards for cars and appliances, advanced technology research, and development of geological storage should allow emission reduction goals to be achieved, she adds. 

Arroyo believes the first step, stimulating existing technologies through demonstrated, cost-effective policies, is “simple” – although it will require political will and thus there is “no time to lose”. 

Geo-engineering will not solve all our problems, claims Arroyo – citing ocean acidification from the conversion of CO2 to carbonic acid as an example. 

She concludes by stating that the current focus should be on “putting policies in place to reduce our emissions” and “preparing to cope with a changing world”. 

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