30 April 2015
SCI's Membership Affairs Committee
SCI, London, UK
This event is no longer available for registration.
Professor Allen will present some of the key scientific findings of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, which demonstrate that climate change is best considered as a stock problem: how to limit the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted over the entire industrial epoch. Unfortunately, UK and EU climate policy, and the whole United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process, are still largely premised on treating it as a flow problem: how to reduce the rate of emissions in 2030 or 2050. So many of the measures being promoted in the name of climate change mitigation, such as carbon taxes, emission permits and subsidies for renewable energy, are only marginally relevant to the main problem, which is what we are going to do with the vast reserves of fossil carbon that we cannot afford to dump into the atmosphere. Thinking about the problem as Mother Nature, as opposed to a climate negotiator, thinks about it, reveals the pivotal role of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in any feasible solution, a role confirmed by the IPCC's economic modelling. Tragically, CCS currently gets a very low priority, because it is not the most cost-effective way of getting emissions down in the short term. The result is an entirely unnecessary risk of significant collectivisation of the global energy economy sometime in the 2040s, with unpredictable geopolitical consequences.
Myles Allen is Professor of Geosystem Science in the Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment and Department of Physics, University of Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Resource Stewardship. His research focuses on how human and natural influences on climate contribute to observed climate change and extreme weather events. In 2009 he co-authored two papers identifying the cumulative impact of carbon dioxide emissions. He has served on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Scientific Assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and in 2010 was awarded the Appleton Medal from the Institute of Physics.
“This event will be recorded and will be posted on the SCI website. Please note: some members of the audience may be in view during the questions and answers session at the end of the lecture”
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