Dec 21, 2008

Making it happen: what to do to reduce Green House Gases by 50%

Many people have designed approaches and scenarios for dramatically reducing our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This includes the early work by Amory Lovins on energy soft paths, especially the low energy scenario that he did for Canada as part of his work on the Conserver Society for the Science Council of Canada in the mid-70s (“Canada as a conserver society: resource uncertainties and the need for new technologies”, Science Council of Canada, Ottawa, 1977). These scenarios demonstrated that with existing technology, it is possible to run our economy effectively with a fraction of the current energy and fossil fuels.

More recently, Ralph Torrie’s work for the David Suzuki foundation (see “Kyoto and Beyond: The low-emission path to innovation and efficiency”, Suzuki Foundation, 2002) listed approximately 150 distinct technologies and changes, which if implemented completely, would result in a 50% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels, by the year 2030.

All of these 150+ technologies which he lists in his low-carbon scenario are proven and available on the market. If we deploy and implement all of them, we will actually exceed the Kyoto targets. The graph and table below show the results of his scenario calculation, and how the deployment of these technologies will result carbon emissions, sector by sector.

This graph (no. 51 from Torrie's original paper on p. 115) shows how GHG emissions are reduced over the years, sector by sector.

This table shows the percentage reduction by the year 2030 in CO2 emmissions, sector by sector. It is taken from Torrie's table 26, p.117.

To achieve the 60% reduction in GHG emissions for the residential building sector, Torrie calculates that we need to deploy and implement no less that 58 different technologies and changes.

Similarly, we need to deploy and implement 28 different technologies and other initatives to achieve the 71% reduction for the commercial building sector.

For the passenger transportation, deploying and implementing 34 technologies and changes will yield a 75% reduction in eCO2 emmissions. And as Torrie points out, all these technologies are proven and exist on the market.

What next?

Our project "Making it happen" will continue to explore these 150 technologies, see if we can update that list - after all, technologies have evoleved since 2002.

But most importantly, we will look at barriers - institutional, cultural, behavioural, political, etc. that impede or slow down the deployment of these technologies.

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