Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Comprehensive Plan of Action

A plan calling upon all nations to commit to effective action to comprehensively deal with climate change. 

Part 1. Reducing oceanic and atmospheric CO2
Intro. Much can be accomplished locally, by implementing two types of budget-neutral feebates:
fees on local sales of fuel, engines and ovens, each time funding the better local products; and           
fees on nitrogen fertilizers and livestock products, funding local application of biochar and olivine sand.   
Emissions cut 80% by 2020,
Sam Carana, March 18, 2008
1.1. Dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions
Most emissions are energy-related. In many cases, dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions can be achieved merely by electrifying transport and shifting to generation of energy by clean facilities such as solar panels and wind turbines. Each nation should aim to reduce their CO2 emissions by a minimum of 8% per year over the next ten years, based on their 2009 emissions, and by 80% by 2020.
1.2. Carbon must also be actively removed from the atmosphere and the oceans
study at the University of Calgary concludes that, even if we completely stopped using fossil fuels and put no more CO2 in the atmosphere, the West Antarctic ice sheet will still eventually collapse (by the year 3000), causing a global sea level rise of at least four meters. In other words, we should – apart from reducing emissions – take additional efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and the oceans.
back to 280ppm
This makes geo-engineering methods an indispensable part of the plan. Carbon is naturally removed from the atmosphere and the oceans by vegetation, so it makes sense to protect forests and encourage their growth, but this alone will not be enough. There are ways to reduce ocean acidification, such as by adding lime to seawater, as discussed at this geoengineering blog and group. Carbon capture from ambient air and pyrolysis of surplus biomass with biochar burial are some of the most promising methods to further remove carbon from the atmosphere. Biochar and olivine sand can also help with afforestation and prevent deforestation and land degradation. Funding of carbon air capture could be raised through fees on jet fuel.

Part 2. Reducing other pollutants and geo-engineering aimed at the Arctic
Intro. Arctic sea ice loss threatens to be the catalyst for a number of feedback effects in the Arctic. Over the years, a number of open letters have called for a comprehensive approach that includes geo-engineering:
Open letter to Dr. Pachauri, March 9, 2009;
Open letter to Major Economies on Energy and Climate, April 20, 2009; and
Open Letter on Arctic Sea Ice Loss, June 26, 2010.

The Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) was formed in 2011 - see AMEG's Declaration of Emergency. AMEG calls specifically for Solar Radiation Management, which includes methods such as cloud brightening and adding sulfur to the atmosphere. 
Albedo change is only one of a number of feedback processes of global warming. A rapid rise of Arctic temperatures could - among other things - lead to wildfires at high latitudes. There is a lot of carbon in the Arctic that could be released in the form of carbon dioxide and methane. Huge amounts of carbon are now stored in peat, permafrost and clathrates. Heat produced by decomposition of organic matter is yet another feedback that leads to even deeper melting. Such feedbacks could cause a runaway greenhouse effect. 
Again, what would help is the implementation of two types of budget-neutral local feebates:        
fees on local sales of fuel, engines and ovens, each time funding the better local products; and           
fees on nitrogen fertilizers and livestock products, funding local application of biochar and olivine sand.  
2.1. Phasing out chemical gases with high GWP
Some gases are best phased out through international agreements. This would include gases such as HFC, PTC, SF6, halon, CFC and HCFC. 
2.2. Reducing emissions of further pollutants
Special efforts should also be taken to reduce emissions of methane and nitrogen oxide (NOx and particularly N2O), given their potency as greenhouse gases. Such reductions can be achieved by a change in diet, improved waste handling and better land use. 
Effective policies such as feebates can impose fees on nitrogen fertilizers and livestock products, while using the revenues to fund pyrolysis of organic waste, as described in Towards a Sustainable Economy. 
As this NASA study points out, for more effective short-term impact, drastic cuts should also be made in other pollutants, such tropospheric ozone, soot and carbon monoxide. This is further illustrated by the image on the right that shows what causes most radiative forcing (W/m2) when taking into account all pollutants over a 20-year period, from a study published in Science. Reducing short-lived pollutants could significantly reduce warming above the Arctic Circle, finds a study published in Journal of Geophysical Research.
The above two types of feebates can also help reduce the impact of such short-lived climate forcers. Geo-engineering methods such as pyrolysis of organic waste can reduce soot. Further progress can be made by encouraging the use of solar cookers and rechargeable batteries to power LED lights. Many types of equipment and appliances can also be powered this way, even when batteries are recharged by hand cranking or pedaling. Electrification of road transport is a crucial part of action on short-lived climate forcers, while generation of energy from clean facilities such as solar panels and wind turbines will further contribute to reductions in short-lived pollutants.
Furthermore, reductions in short-lived pollutants can be achieved by preservation of forests, which justifies financial assistance by rich countries. Such assistance should not be used by rich nations as a substitute for domestic action — action is also required domestically by each nation, on all points.
2.3.  Geoengineering, specifically aimed at the Arctic
Discussions of geoengineering methods, such as ways to reflect solar radiation can be found at this geoengineering blog and group, and at the Arctic Methane Emergency Group. Possible methods are pictured below.

(click on image to enlarge)

Part 3. Adaptation
Intro. Look at policies that can help people, flora and fauna adapt to climate change. Rich nations are urged to give financial assistance to poorer nations, as well as to facilitate technology transfer, including by preventing that intellectual property protection acts as a barrier to such transfer.
3.1. Prepare for extreme weather events
Look at safety issues from the perspective of a changed world. It makes sense to prepare for hailstorms, heavy flooding, severe droughts, wildfires, etc., and to grow food that fits such weather patterns best.
3.2. Preserve biodiversity 
Protection of rain forests is well covered in the media. Biodiversity can be further preserved by means of seed banks, parks and wildlife corridors.
3.3. Vegetate 
Fresh water supply and food security require extensive planning, such as selection of best crop. Build facilities for desalination both for fresh water in cities and to irrigate and vegetate deserts and other areas with little vegetation.


1. TacklCO2  (cut CO2 emissions and remove CO2 from atmosphere and oceans) (policies B,C,D) 
2.1. Reduce emissions of chemical gases such as HFC, PFC, SF6,, halon, CFC and HCFC (policy A)
2.2. Reduce emissions of pollutant such as CH4, N2O, BC, CO, NOx and VOC (policies B,C,E)
2.3. Geoengineering, (policy D) 
3. Adaptation (preparation, preservation, plantation, energy saving, etc)  

This can be best achieved through the following policies:
Protocols (KyotoMontreal, etc), standards, and regulations calling for deposits (refunded at collection) on products containing inorganic pollutants
Fees on nitrogen fertilizers and livestock products to fund local application of biochar and olivine sand
Fees on burning fuel (where burned) to fund clean local alternatives (incl. EVs, solar cookers, WWS energy)

Geoengineering (such as adding lime to seawater and aerosols to the atmosphere, carbon air capture, using UV light to stimulate methane oxidation, cloud brightening, etc; for more see the geoengineering group)
Organic waste handling standards (e.g. the UNEP-proposed ban of open field burning of agricultural waste)

Color Use:
Inorganic waste policies (cycle A)
Land use and organic waste policies (cycles B & E)
Geoengineering & energy-related policies (cycles C & D)
Feebate policies

Acronyms and Abbreviations
AMMArctic methane management
AWIMArctic water & ice management
BCblack carbon (or soot)
CDRcarbon dioxide removal
CH4methane (or natural gas)
COcarbon monoxide
CO2carbon dioxide
EVelectric vehicle
HFChydrofluorocarbon also known as freon, with the subclass HCFC
H2O2HOOH or hydrogen peroxide
MDRFMethane Decomposition by Radio Frequencies (Project Lucy)
MESHMethane Extraction and Sequestration in Hydrates
NOnitrogen monoxide (commonly known as nitric oxide)
NO2nitrogen dioxide
NOXnitrogen oxides (NO and NO2, which cause O3, smog and acid rain)
N2Onitrous oxide
SF6sulphur hexafluoride
SO2sulfur dioxide
SRMSolar Radiation Management
TiO2titanium dioxide
UNEPUnited Nations Environment Programme
VOCvolatile organic compound include CFCs, styrenelimonene and formaldehyde
WWSWWS energy or Wind, Water and Solar Energy (water includes hydro, wave, tidal and geothermal)

Related Posts

Ten Dangers of Global Warming
America can win the clean energy race