Thursday, 03 December 2009 10:22

How to Live Within a (Carbon) Budget

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A new report states that at our current rate of emissions, we are on pace to blow through our carbon budget 16 years early. Global accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) said in a recent report that in order to keep the consequences of global warming to a minimum, the global carbon ‘budget’ must remain below 1,300 billion tonnes of CO2 between the years 2000 and 2050. Currently, virtually all major nations are emitting at a pace that is unsustainably high and will blow our budget by 2034. Though the news reported by PWC is not great, there is room for improvement and mitigation. All nations must use energy more efficiently in order to keep our emissions under the sustainable threshold. Globally, this means improving our ‘carbon intensity’ – or the amount of carbon needed to generate a dollar of economic output. While carbon intensity tends to improve organically through upgrades in appliances and processes, this evolution is typically slow. To stay within our carbon budget, global carbon intensity must improve by 3 percent a year. From 2000-08, the carbon intensity of China, the U.S. and the E.U. improved only 0.7, 2.2, and 1.8 percent respectively. A good model for global leaders to follow can be based on the model of Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t. Three percent a year doesn’t sound like much, but will require coordinated efforts and long term planning. By focusing on efficiency improvements that improve carbon intensity, we can see real emissions reductions and cost savings today – and a cleaner future tomorrow. Can you reduce your carbon intensity 3% a year? Tell us how you are reducing your emission today!
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