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Mitigating greenhouse: Limited time, limited options

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  • Moriarty, Patrick
  • Honnery, Damon

Abstract

Most human-caused climate change comes from fossil fuel combustion emissions. To avoid the risk of serious climate change, very recent research suggests that emission reductions will need to be both large and rapidly implemented. We argue that technical solutions--improving energy efficiency, use of renewable and nuclear energy, and carbon capture and sequestration--can only be of minor importance, mainly given the limited time available to take effective climate action. Only curbing energy use, perhaps through 'social efficiency' gains, particularly in the high-energy consumption countries, can provide the rapid emissions reductions needed. The social efficiency approach requires a basic rethinking in how we can satisfy our human needs with low environmental impacts. Large cuts in emissions could then occur rapidly, but only if resistance to such changes can be overcome. Particularly in transport, there are also serious potential conflicts between the technical and the social efficiency approaches, requiring a choice to be made.

Suggested Citation

  • Moriarty, Patrick & Honnery, Damon, 2008. "Mitigating greenhouse: Limited time, limited options," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 1251-1256, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:4:p:1251-1256
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bows, Alice & Anderson, Kevin L., 2007. "Policy clash: Can projected aviation growth be reconciled with the UK Government's 60% carbon-reduction target?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 103-110, March.
    2. Ribeiro, Suzana K & Kobayashi, Shigeki & Beuthe, Michel & Gasca, Jorge & Greene, David & Lee, David S. & Muromachi, Yasunori & Newton, Peter J. & Plotkin, Steven & Sperling, Daniel & Wit, Ron & Zhou, , 2007. "Transportation and its Infrastructure," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt98m5t1rv, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    3. Michael Huesemann, 2006. "Can Advances in Science and Technology Prevent Global Warming?," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 539-577, May.
    4. Alcott, Blake, 2008. "The sufficiency strategy: Would rich-world frugality lower environmental impact," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 770-786, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Moriarty, Patrick & Honnery, Damon, 2010. "A human needs approach to reducing atmospheric carbon," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 695-700, February.
    2. Chiu, Mei-Shiu, 2013. "Tensions in implementing the “energy-conservation/carbon-reduction” policy in Taiwanese culture," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 415-425.
    3. Moriarty, Patrick & Honnery, Damon, 2009. "What energy levels can the Earth sustain?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2469-2474, July.
    4. Aro, Teuvo, 2009. "Preconditions and tools for cross-sectoral regional industrial GHG and energy efficiency policy--A Finnish standpoint," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2722-2733, July.

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