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Curbing coal emissions alone might avert climate danger, say researchers
Date:9/12/2008

ical model to convert CO2 emissions from each scenario into estimates of future concentrations in the atmosphere. The "business as usual" scenario resulted in CO2 that would exceed 450 parts per million from by 2035, and climb to more than double the pre-industrial level. Even when low-end estimates of reserves were assumed, the threshold was exceeded from about 2050 onwards. However, the other four scenarios resulted in CO2 levels that peaked in various years, but all fell below the prescribed cap of 450 parts per million by about 2080 at the latest. Levels in two of the scenarios always stayed below the threshold.

The researchers say that the results clearly imply that emissions from coal should be reduced. This would apply also, they say, to "unconventional" fuels not yet in mainstream use, such as methane hydrates and tar sands. These also contain far more fossil carbon than conventional oil and gas, and thus could potentially be major contributors to emissions.

"We're illustrating the types of action needed to get to target carbon dioxide levels," Kharecha said. "The most important mitigation strategy we recommenda phase-out of carbon dioxide emissions from coal within the next few decadesis feasible using current or near-term technologies."


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Contact: Kevin Krajick
kkrajick@ei.columbia.edu
212-854-9729
The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Source:Eurekalert  

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