Can a ‘carbon law’ save the world?

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Can a ‘carbon law’ save the world?

Climate scientists have proposed a roadmap to rapidly reduce anthropogenic carbon emissions, and it’s very simple. All that is required is to halve those carbon emissions every decade…

Based on Moore’s Law that computer processes double in power every two years, researchers argue that using a carbon law that requires the halving of emissions every decade would spur disruptive innovation that would enable the targets to be met while providing an overarching long term plan.

In a peer-reviewed article in Science, Rockstrӧm et al used this theory to map out how anthropogenic carbon emissions would be halved every decade. Building off the Paris Agreement, the theory is broken into four sections: 2017-2020 No Brainers, 2020-2030 Herculean Efforts, 2030-2040 Many Breakthroughs and 2040-2050 Revise, Reinforce. Each of these decades utilises innovation, institutions, infrastructures and investment to show feasibility. This applies to all sectors and countries and seeks to combine rapid near-term emission reduction and longer-term planning within each decadal target to be ready for the next decade.

Like Moore’s Law, it relies on constant innovation to meet the reduction targets, however it differs in that there are few issues that are as divisive as anthropogenic climate change, and this is where the carbon law comes into issues. It relies on participation of all nations to take dramatic action to reduce emissions and remove some industries entirely, it also requires governments to implement carbon taxes, cap and trade systems and feed-in tariffs as a ‘no brainer’. All of these come up against ideological and political opposition even while the academic communities can show the benefits and the business community demands change to meet the challenges of the future.

While it’s a big ask to end coal use by 2030 and oil use by 2040, the opportunities for a new technological age through adherence to a carbon law could do for emission reduction what Moore’s Law did for computer processors.

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