Are we asking for unrealistic coal cuts in China, India, South Africa?
Climate forecasting models wrong on coal cuts, says a study on Nature Climate Change
(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The coal cuts required by the forecast models on climate to remain on the trajectory of the 1.5 C are unrealistic. Not for everyone: only for emerging and developing countries such as South Africa, India and China (Beijing officially still ranks in this group of countries). The rate at which they should say goodbye to the most polluting fossil source is much higher than the advanced economies have ever managed to achieve.
The problem? A bias -even at the unconscious level- by those who build these models. That makes it less sensitive to the practical feasibility of systemic change when it doesn’t affect your country closely. This is stated by a study published in Nature Climate Change and edited by the International Institute for Sustainable Development of Geneva and University College London.
Coal cuts twice as fast
“In IPCC routes that limit heating to 1.5 ºC, global production of electricity from coal decreases rapidly due to its emission intensity and substitutability,” the authors explain.
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“However, we found that in countries heavily dependent on coal – China, India and South Africa – this translates into a national decline twice as fast as historically achieved for any energy technology in any country, in relation to the size of the system. This raises questions of socio-political feasibility”.
According to the latest IPCC report, the 6th Assessment Report – Working Group III, to limit global warming to 1.5 ºC, coal cuts of 75% between 2020 and 2030 are needed. Even faster the pace if you look at the energy sector alone. Here, the reduction in electricity generated by coal must fall by 88% globally. The study compares these rhythms with the fastest ever sustained: the farewell to South Korean oil with the 1973 oil crisis and the transition of the United States thanks to the boom of fracking in the 10 years of this century.