The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be reduced to less than 40 percent, if people use every available means of reducing emissions, according to a new study.
This includes more nuclear and renewable energy, choosing electricity over fossil fuels, reducing emissions through technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide, and even using forests to store carbon.
Researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute introduced the work, called the RCP 4.5 scenario, to independently study how the climate might respond to different increases of greenhouse gases and how much of the sun”s energy they trap in the atmosphere. It can also be used to study possible ways to slow climate change and adapt to it.
Also, unlike similar models, it includes carbon stored in forests, causing forest acreage to increase — even as energy systems change to include fuels generated from bioenergy crops and crop waste.
“The RCP 4.5 scenario assumes that action will be taken to limit emissions. Without any action, the emissions, and the heat trapped in the atmosphere, would be much higher, leading to more severe climate change,” said lead author Allison Thomson, a scientist at JGCRI, a collaboration between the Department of Energy”s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and the University of Maryland.
“This scenario and the other three produced in this project will provide a common thread for climate change research across many different science communities,” Thomson said.
The study has been published in the journal Climatic Change.