Power plants across the globe are going to spew forth more than three-hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide over their expected lifetimes, adding massive amounts of the climate-warming gas to the atmosphere. That number is just from the power plants that are currently in existence, it doesn’t include power plants that have yet to be built.
This is according to findings by scientists from the University of California in Irvine (UCI) and Princeton University. These findings, which appeared in Environmental Research Letters earlier this week, are the first to quantify just how quickly these “committed” emissions are growing, which is around four percent annually, as more fossil fuel-burning power plants are being built.
“Bringing down carbon emissions means retiring more fossil fuel-burning facilities than we build,” said Steven Davis, assistant professor of Earth system science at UCI and the study’s lead author. “But worldwide, we’ve built more coal-burning power plants in the past decade than in any previous decade, and closures of old plants aren’t keeping pace with this expansion. Far from solving the climate change problem, we’re investing heavily in technologies that make the problem worse.”
“We’ve been hiding what’s going on from ourselves: A high-carbon future is being locked in by the world’s capital investments,” said Socolow, professor emeritus of mechanical & aerospace engineering. “Current conventions for reporting data and presenting scenarios for future action need to give greater prominence to these investments. Such a rebalancing of attention will reveal the relentlessness of coal-based industrialization, long underway and showing no sign of abating.”
Read more about the story at Scientific American.
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