GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 76-11
Presentation Time: 10:55 AM


WARNER, Kevin and JONES, Glenn, Marine Science, Texas A&M University Galveston Campus, 1001 Texas Clipper Rd, Galveston, TX 77554

At the 2017 global emission rate of 33.4 gigatonnes/yr of CO2 equivalent, the world will surpass the COP-21 climate change goal of <2°C by 2041. In examining UN population projections, energy production/consumption trends, fossil fuel reserves, and carbon emissions we concluded in 2015 that the world would need renewable energy to produce 50% of all energy by 2026. Renewable sources only produced 10% of global energy in 2017. Given historical rates of renewable energy growth, it is highly unlikely that the world can shift to renewables fast enough to avoid >2°C warming. Moreover, the latest UN 2100 world population projection increased from 10.9 to 11.2 billion. Nearly 20% of the world's current 7.6 billion live without electricity. Though energy access is desirable, it runs counter to the reduction in emissions required before mid-century if warming is to be limited to 2°C. As we progress through the 21st century it is critical to examine the trends in nations’ per capita consumption rates as they move toward renewable energy. In 2015 the G7 countries announced a goal to reduce emissions to 50% of 2010 levels by 2050 and to be 100% renewable by 2100. The uncertainty of US climate and energy policies and involvement under the current administration has endangered the potential of already precarious agreements. US energy policy will need to integrate science-based study for future energy decisions. Options range from using the fuels, delaying/reducing the need for renewable energy to taking the lead in climate change action and leave as much of its vast coal reserves as possible in the ground. This presentation represents a three-year update to our 2015 results. We conclude that despite progress since 2015 in renewable energy usage, population growth has negated any gains. We find that it remains highly unlikely that the 2°C goal can be met. What is needed is an immediate global effort to expand renewable energy as soon as possible and to adapt to a >2.5°C world.