America’s Climate Choices #2 – Limiting the Magnitude of Climate Change

The National Research Council has released three reports focusing on why the US should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and form a coherent plan to deal with the changing climate.

[social_buttons]”These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong,” said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. “But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond.”

The second of the reports notes that a “departure from business as usual” is going to be necessary to “meet internationally discussed targets for limiting atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated increases in global average temperatures.”

“Increasing U.S. emissions are driven by a growing national economy and a growing population,” states the report. “Even with expected improvements in energy efficiency, a business-as-usual pathway means that U.S. emissions will continue increasing.”

This second report mirrors the Advancing the Science of Climate Change report in stating that there needs to be more connectivity between the various levels of action taking place. The authors note that there needs to be a “framework of national goals and policies to help coordinate and expand the efforts” of state and local governments, households, individuals, businesses, communities, and industry.

The report does not recommend a specific target for reduction of American greenhouse gasses, but does suggest a “representative domestic emissions budget” in the range of 170 to 200 gigatons of carbon dioxide between 2012 and 2050, which corresponds to a reduction of emissions from 1990 levels by 80 to 50 percent respectively.

A list of opportunities for reducing emissions was also provided by the authors of the report, including reducing underlying demand for goods and services that require energy, improving the efficiency with which energy is used, expanding the use of low- and zero-carbon energy sources and capturing and sequestering C02 directly from the atmosphere.

In conclusion, and not surprisingly, the report said that “there is an urgent need for U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” and went on to list seven core strategies that policy makers should adhere to in the coming years.

The America’s Climate Choices website includes briefs of each of the three new reports.

Please check out our articles on the other two reports:

America’s Climate Choices #1 – Advancing the Science of Climate Change and 
America’s Climate Choices #3 – Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change

Source: National Academy of Sciences

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