Climate Dreaming: Negative Emissions, Risk Transfer, and Irreversibility

Forthcoming in Special Issue of Journal of Human Rights and Environment

22 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2017

Date Written: March 24, 2017

Abstract

The Integrated Assessment Models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rely heavily on negative emissions technologies [NETs] for scenarios that keep global temperature rise to 2° C or lower. One favoured NET is bio-energy combined with carbon capture and storage [BECCS]. It is not established, however, that BECCS is feasible at a scale sufficient to matter, nor that BECCS at sufficient scale is compatible with sustainable development. Secondly, substituting the prospect of BECCS later for ambitious mitigation of emissions now unjustifiably transfers risks from the present to the future. Thirdly, no NET can ‘buy time’ for unambitious mitigation because the later reduction of ‘overshoots’ in emissions cannot reverse the passing of tipping points in the interim. The substitution of the dream of later negative emissions for immediate mitigations is therefore completely unjustified.

Keywords: BECCS, Climate Change, Integrated Assessment Models, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Negative Emissions

JEL Classification: Q54, D63, A13

Suggested Citation

Shue, Henry, Climate Dreaming: Negative Emissions, Risk Transfer, and Irreversibility (March 24, 2017). Forthcoming in Special Issue of Journal of Human Rights and Environment . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2940987 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2940987

Henry Shue (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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