Notes on a talk given by Christiana Figueres (ex-Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) at the Energy Lab 01:
There are two different principles which need to guide us.
1) The moral imperative: Protection of vulnerable people
Poor people throughout the world are the most at risk from Climate change, even though they have emitted very little of the CO2 that is the problem (even en mass). If we continue to destroy the climate, there will also be massive people movements away from unlivable areas.
2) The economic imperative
We can only emit another 600gt of greenhouse gases before we go into irreparable climate instability with uncontrollable and destructive weather.
We are currently emitting more than 40gt per year. We are exceeding what the natural systems of the planet can deal with.
If we stopped emissions completely that would be great, but we cannot do that without stopping the economy. So we need a transition period in which we move out of greenhouse gas emitting energy sources.
Now 600/40 = less than 17 years.
We have a time problem, but basically we need to start reducing greenhouse emissions within 3 years at most. We need to develop a trend of decreasing emissions until we reach zero emissions (or less).
That involves changes in policy, a shift of finance and technological innovation. It is all doable, and is in people’s interests to do.