Deep decarbonization, or the decreasing of carbon emissions on a mass scale, must happen quickly if we are to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius and stop temperatures from continuing to rise.
If there is any chance of achieving this, it will take a significant, collaborative effort whereby carbon emissions are reduced by 70 percent over the next 35 years, according to a new study published in the journal Science.
This will be no easy feat and depends on more than just scientific studies that prove the effects of climate change, as the researchers noted.
The problem with many climate change studies is their “one solution fits all” approach, looking for a single piece of the puzzle that will reduce carbon emissions worldwide without considering the current cultural, political, or economic climate.
Instead, researchers from the universities of Sussex, Manchester, and Oxford took all these factors into account and conducted a study to create a “socio-technical” framework that can be used a model for tackling rapid decarbonization successfully.
“Our ‘big picture’ socio-technical framework shows how interactions between various social groups can increase the momentum of low-carbon transitions,” said Professor Frank Geels from the University of Manchester and the lead author of the study.
The study includes a wide-reaching policy forum with four major steps, called lessons, that need to be taken for changes to occur.
The first is a transformation of ‘socio-technical systems,’ as speeding up the decarbonization process is not just dependent on new technology, but it must be widely accepted socially and politically as well.
The second step is the alignment of multiple innovations and systems. If there is a major shift in renewable energy, there will also have to be technical advances made in energy storage and demand for those innovations.
“One of the great strengths of this study is the equal emphasis it accords to technological, social, business and policy innovation, in all of which governments, as well as the private sector, have a key role to play. Public policy has an enormous role to play at every step in the creation of these changed conditions,” said Paul Ekins, the Director of the University College London Institute for Sustainable Resources.
The third step involves making sure the right tools are in place to support and motivate businesses and people transitioning to renewable energy and low carbon lifestyles.
The fourth step requires the removal of existing systems as new technologies and innovations are adopted.
This research not only shows how vital a collaborative effort is to policymakers, scientists, business and the public sector, but also proves that it will be the only way to successfully achieve the rapid decarbonization.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer