Fossil fuels and Climate Change

Evidence of the need to reduce fossil-fuel use:

Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2013, Summary for Policy-makers:
‘The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Carbon dioxide concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. (p11)
Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system. (p15). It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th Century (p17)
Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.’ (p19)

Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014, Summary for Policy-makers:
‘Increased use of coal relative to other energy sources has reversed the long-standing trend of gradual decarbonisation of the world’s energy supply (p7)
Baseline scenarios (those without additional mitigation), result in global mean temperature increases in 2100 from 3.7 to 4.8 degrees C compared to pre-industrial levels (p8)
Delaying mitigation efforts beyond those in place today through 2030 is estimated to substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to low longer-term emissions levels and narrow the range of options consistent with maintaining temperature change below 2 degrees C relative to pre-industrial levels (p16)
Infrastructure developments and long-lived products that lock societies into GHG-intensive emissions pathways may be difficult or very costly to change, reinforcing the importance of early action for ambitious mitigation (p20)
Substantial reductions in emissions would require large changes in investment patterns (p29)’

NB. The above statements are corroborated by the Summary of the 2014 Joint Report of The Royal Society and the US Academy of Sciences, Climate Change: Evidence and Causes. In addition, it states:
‘Even if emissions of greenhouse gases were to suddenly stop, Earth’s surface temperature would not cool and return to the level in the pre-industrial era for thousands of years… The current CO2-induced warming of the Earth is therefore essentially irreversible on human timescales. The amount and rate of further warming will depend almost entirely upon how much more CO2 humankind emits. (p21)

World Energy Outlook 2012:
‘Energy efficiency can keep the door to 2 °C open for just a bit longer
Successive editions of this report have shown that the climate goal of limiting warming
to 2 °C is becoming more difficult and more costly with each year that passes…. If action to reduce CO2 emissions is not taken before 2017, all the allowable CO2 emissions would be locked-in by energy infrastructure existing at that time.’

World Energy Outlook, 2013:
‘In our central scenario, taking into account the impact of measures already announced by governments to improve energy efficiency, support renewables, reduce fossil-fuel subsidies and, in some cases, to put a price on carbon, energy-related CO2 emissions still rise by 20% to 2035. This leaves the world on a trajectory consistent with a long-term average temperature increase of 3.6 °C, far above the internationally agreed 2 °C target.’ (p2)….. ‘Action is needed to break down the various barriers to investment in energy efficiency. This includes phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies, which we estimate rose to $544 billion worldwide in 2012.’ (p3)