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Avoiding climate change 205

emissions savings
Sector (Gton CO2 per year)

Energy supply 3.7 Shifting to carbon-free renewable energy, and

capturing CO2 from coal
Transportation 2.9 Major improvements in efficiency are possible at
low cost
Buildings 4.0 Large savings possible which would pay for
Industry 4.0 This slow-growing sector could be more efficient
Agriculture 3.3 No-till agriculture could capture carbon from
the atmosphere
Forestry 2.6 Reforestation
Waste treatment 1.0 Smaller emissions savings, mostly methane and
Total 21.6

comparable contributions to stabilizing CO2. In addition, some energy experts

find the IPCC too pessimistic on the renewable energy potential - their views
will be discussed near the end of this chapter.

Energy consumption
Transportation uses 24% of our energy production, and it is the fastest-
growing sector of energy use. Internal combustion of fossil fuels supplies 96%
of all transportation energy. Oil is the most convenient form of fossil fuel for
transportation, because its liquid form is easily transportable. Oil will become
carce at some point in the coming decades, but liquid fuels could be baked
out of carbon-rich rocks such as oil shales and tar sands. Liquid fuels could be
' ' ' '1II11111111R1l1i

The Climate Crisis










0 Ind

Figure 9.9 Morning rush hour traffic in Hyderabad, India. Figure 9.

synthesized chemically from coal, natural gas, or biomass. Except for biomass,
these alternative energy sources are less efficient than petroleum in terms of miles
carbon emissions.
Automobile ownership is strongly correlated with income (Figure 9.10),
and globally, automobile ownership and use is projected to increase. If it were
not for environmental and fuel limitations, one estimate has 80% more cars in
the world in the year 2030. Free markets have a mixed record at optimizing for
fuel efficiency, regardless of the price of fuels. In many markets people prefer
large, powerful vehicles if they are available. Fuel economy regulations in 40

contrast have been nearly universally effective at steering technological

development toward higher efficiency (Figure 9.11). 35
There have been technical improvements in the efficiency of automotive
transport, for example hybrid vehicles (40% more efficient than traditional 30
gasoline engines) and turbo diesel (30% more efficient). Biofuels, for example
ethanol, can be used for transportation. As described above, the potential for 25
ethanol will be greatly expanded when techniques for generating ethanol from
cellulose are developed. There has been progress in hydrogen fuel cell
technology, but hydrogen cars are still a "demonstration project" technology. 2002
Hydrogen cars could be 50-60% more efficient than internal combustion of Figure 9.1
Avoiding climate change 207

Vehicle Ownership/ 1000 Persons



us~ -----I







o India
o China 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 35000
GDP per Capita (US$)

Figure 9.10 Car ownership as a function of income.

miles/ gallon liter /100 km

55 -r--'-------------------------------------,- 4.3

••• "-EU
50 •.. •.. 4.7

•.. ...
~... ~.~apan

40 5.9

35 ~ __ Australia
_ •... ••••• 6.7

Canada, ••••• California

30 •.•••
~_-- 7.8
.)It' "
25 ~ ~====-~=_===-t-us-~
•....• US
" 9.4

2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016

Figure 9.11 Fuel economy standards for various countries.
208 The Climate Crisis

gasoline, or even more if the hydrogen were produced from some carbon-free air, by co
energy source. efficientl]
The Fourth Assessment Report estimates that improvements in the for blowi
transportation sector could reduce COrequivalent emissions by 2.9 Gton Lightir
CO2/year at a cost ofless than $100/ton of CO2 (Table 9.1). As we shall see as incandess
we continue our survey of the energy landscape, there are numerous sectors already m
that could all cut CO2-equivalent emissions by about this same amount. into resid
The bu
which is
The outlook for cutting CO2 emissions by changing energy use in buildings is that from
similar to that for transportation. Buildings use about a third of our global
energy production, also similar to transportation. The rate of growth of
building energy use has been 1.8%/year, somewhat slower than that for
transportation, but not wildly slower. And there appears to be a lot of easily The third
trimmed fat that could bring CO2 emissions from the building sector down a responsibl
relatively low cost. In fact, many energy-saving efficiency measures in the 0.6%/year,
building sector could actually pay for themselves. 40% of em
The Fourth Assessment Report summarizes a suite of 11 studies to conclude industrial ,
that cuts of about 25% could be made in the industrial world, and 60% in the aluminum,
developing world, all of which would eventually pay for themselves. fertilizers, :
Investment in CO2 emission reduction of up to $20/ton could buy even energy-inn
further reductions. Surveys of domestic energy use show factor-of-two The growth
variations or more between houses and families of comparable size, just based the other
on differences in energy use habits. Another tre
The three main types of energy use in buildings are heating, cooling, and developing
lighting. Heat efficiency can be improved by insulating the building and emissions n
sealing up the leaks. In cold climates, heating costs can be reduced by 80-90° A signific
below standard practice using twice the insulation called for by code, takinz carbon, rath
care to seal air leaks, and using the best available windows. Windows of carbon fn
are available that cut heat loss by a factor of three to four below standard produce pill
double-pane non-coated windows. cement man
Conversion of heat energy from fossil fuel combustion into electrical energy from which l
is only about 30% efficient. The lost energy is called waste heat. This heat can calcium oxid
be used to heat buildings in a strategy called cogeneration. With cogeneratio manufacture
the efficiency of energy extraction from fossil fuels doubles, to around 60%. chemical, the
The benefits of cogeneration have been demonstrated in a few projects, but are mostly based
not used extensively in practice. The most s
Cooling costs can be reduced by architectural design, for example shadins ethylene man
and ventilation. Air conditioning is often used as a means of dehumidifying ammonia for
Avoiding climate change 209

air, by cooling and re-warming it, but dehumidification can be done more
efficiently by other means. Air conditioning systems are also used in practice
for blowing air around, which fans can do more economically.
Lighting costs can be reduced by a factor of four by switching from
incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs have
already made significant inroads into commercial buildings, but not so much
into residential buildings.
The building sector has an amount of CO2 emission reduction to offer
which is comparable to that from the transportation sector (Table 9.1).
However, abatement from the building sector would be much cheaper than
that from transportation.

The third major type of energy use is industrial. Industrial activity is
responsible for about 8.4 Gton CO2 emission today, but it is growing only
0.6%/year, so industrial CO2 emissions have lagged behind, from about
40% of emissions in 1971 to 36% today. Most of the CO2 emission from
industrial activity comes from metal production, such as iron, steel,
aluminum, and magnesium; chemical production such as plastics,
fertilizers, and petroleum refining; cement; and forest products. These
energy-intensive industries account for 85% of industrial CO2 emission.
The growth rate of CO2 emissions has been slower than the growth rate of
the other sectors of energy use, because of improvements in efficiency.
Another trend in industrial energy consumption is a migration to the
developing world, which accounts for just over half of industrial CO2
emissions today.
A significant fraction of industrial CO2 emission is due to chemical uses of
carbon, rather than energy uses. Steel, aluminum, and other metals make use
of carbon from coke (a derivative of coal) to "un-rust" the metal ores to
produce pure metals. Carbon dioxide is also produced as a by-product of
cement manufacture. The process begins with calcium carbonate, CaC03,
from which the CO2 is released by heating. The result, called clinker, contains
calcium oxide (CaO), which reacts with water to form cement. Cement
manufacture accounts for 5% of global CO2 emissions, about half of which is
chemical, the other half is for energy. Reduction in cement CO2 emission is
mostly based on improvements in the energy release.
The most significant CO2 sources in the chemical synthesis industry include
ethylene manufacture, an ingredient for plastics, and the manufacture of
ammonia for fertilizer. Ethylene could be made more efficiently, but ammonia
216 The Climate Crisis

electricity. Current commercial heat pumps provide three times the energy in
heat that they use in electricity. This is why they have no real reduction
potential in the current electricity generation mix with its 33% efficiency, and
are not very widely used. (Multiply those 33% by 3 and you get back to 100%,
i.e. the same as burning fossil fuel directly for heating.) But in a future system
running increasingly on directly generated, renewable electricity, heat pumps
become an ever better option to cut down fossil fuel use.
~ Finally, in the transport sector, we are currently largely stuck with a
nineteenth-century device, the internal combustion engine, which in cars runs
with an average efficiency of about 20% and with no hope for much
improvement. This means that our car fleet wastes 80% of the petrol and
diesel it guzzles up, to produce waste heat. Electric cars, in contrast, perform
with a "tank-to-wheel" efficiency already up to 80%. Now that the battery
problem is as good as solved with lithium-ion battery technology, we cannot
afford to leave this factor of four efficiency gain untapped - also considering
the co-benefits of quieter cars that accelerate better and don't cause local air
pollution. Hybrid cars, which include a small electric motor, are now
conquering our roads, and the next step will be plug-in hybrids. In China, and Figure 9.16·
also increasingly in Europe, bicycles with a small electric support motor are Its electric
proving to be a serious transport alternative for faster, effortless riding. And a lithium-ion
fully electric sports car, the Tesla, is on sale as of 2008 (Figure 9.16).
As with heat pumps, the benefits of electric mobility are not so large while
change. Con
we are stuck with a wasteful fossil electricity generation system. But as part of
form of a
an overall energy transition towards efficient renewable electricity, the savings
alternative e
potential is huge. And millions of car batteries hooked up to a smart electricity
allowable ern
grid provide an excellent buffer to stabilize the grid against supply
system opera
fluctuations, e.g. from wind variability. They can be programmed to fully
the market
charge preferentially while power is cheap during windy hours, and car owners
by China am
could even be automatically selling back electricity to the grid at a premium
provision of
during lulls, thereby making money.
power). Subs
Overall, the options discussed above, combined with improved efficiency of
measured ei
consumer devices like refrigerators, lighting, or television, would be able to
against the
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 in industrial countries
without any loss of comfort or well-being. Once solar power generation
becomes cheap and ubiquitous in the second half of the century, the transition
to a decarbonized, solar-based energy system with near-zero CO2 emissions What it
will be within reach. At the same time energy poverty, which currently hampers
development in many parts of the world, should be a thing of the past. Working Gra.
In our view, even rising fossil fuel prices will not suffice to bring these new CO2 emissio
technologies into the market sufficiently fast to prevent dangerous climate COb while r
Avoiding c\imate change 1'\1

Figure 9.16 The electric car produced and sold by Tesla Motors, a Californian company.
Its electric motor is still powered by a large number of laptop batteries, but bigger
lithium-ion batteries built for use in cars are now starting to come on the market.

change. Concerted action by governments is therefore needed, not only in the

form of a massive investment in research: a kind of "Apollo program" for
alternative energy systems. Further government measures include standards for
allowable emissions, pricing of carbon emissions (like the emissions trading
system operating in the EU), targeted support to help certain technologies into
the market (like the highly successful German renewable energy law, now copied
by China and several other countries), and infrastructure investments (like the
provision of high-capacity electricity grids needed to distribute renewable
power). Subsidies and investment in this area are still surprisingly small, when
measured either against the importance and scale of the challenge ahead, or even
against the support still enjoyed by the fossil fuel or nuclear industries.

What it wi II cost

Working Group III projects that in the next 25 years, for a reduction of annual
CO2 emissions by 11 Gton CO2, the cost would be about US$20 per ton of
CO2, while reduction by 22 Gton CO2 would cost $100 per ton of CO2, These