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Rethinking wedges

  • Author(s): Davis, Steven J
  • Cao, Long
  • Caldeira, Ken
  • Hoffert, Martin I
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

Stabilizing CO2 emissions at current levels for fifty years is not consistent with either an atmospheric CO2 concentration below 500 ppm or global temperature increases below 2 °C. Accepting these targets, solving the climate problem requires that emissions peak and decline in the next few decades, and ultimately fall to near zero. Phasing out emissions over 50 years could be achieved by deploying on the order of 19 'wedges', each of which ramps up linearly over a period of 50 years to ultimately avoid 1 GtC y−1 of CO2 emissions. But this level of mitigation will require affordable carbon-free energy systems to be deployed at the scale of tens of terawatts. Any hope for such fundamental and disruptive transformation of the global energy system depends upon coordinated efforts to innovate, plan, and deploy new transportation and energy systems that can provide affordable energy at this scale without emitting CO2 to the atmosphere.

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