One of the most helpful books we have read at Green Thinkers bookclub, for understanding the Climate Change debate, was ‘The Burning Question’ by Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark.
The Burning Question is essentially: ‘how will the world avoid extracting and burning the $20 trillion worth of fossil fuel reserves we are currently planning to burn, that will emit 2,795 gigatonnes of carbon emissions?’ – a figure that is five times greater that the potentially ‘safe’ limit of an additional 565 gigatonnes to stay below two degrees of warming.
There are some helpful clues in the book, one being the illustration of a train of three carriages: the first ‘consumption’, the second ‘combustion’ and with ‘extraction’ bringing up the rear.
Trying to slow the consumption and combustion carriages is futile unless the extraction carriage is also slowed down. The effect of was seen recently as the US switched from coal to gas, but continued to extract and export the coal, which was then sold and burnt elsewhere in the world.
Lets hope that any climate change deal today in Paris at COP21 acts on all three parts of the train.
By Marek Bidwell