At COP21, four of the world’s leading climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigley, Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Kerry Emanuel will present a research showing the increasing urgency of fully decarbonizing the world economy.
The presentation will also show that renewables alone cannot realistically meet the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C, and that a major expansion of nuclear power is essential to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system this century.
The scientists will outline how only a combined strategy employing all the major sustainable clean energy options — including renewables and nuclear — can prevent the worst effects of climate change by 2100, such as the loss of coral reefs, severe damages from extreme weather events, and the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide.
The challenge from the scientists comes as nuclear power is back on the table at Paris as a major climate mitigation option, appearing as a significant component of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of major emitters including China, the U.S. and India.
The four scientists call for an increase in ambition in the deployment of improved light-water reactors, with the accelerated development of advanced fission technologies to accompany planned increases in solar, wind and hydro power generation.
In light of the urgency of tackling climate change and nuclear power’s essential role in limiting temperature rises, the four scientists will therefore challenge environmental leaders who still hold anti-nuclear positions to instead support development and deployment of safe and environmentally-friendly nuclear power.
For example, the Climate Action Network, representing all the major environmental groups, still insists despite all evidence to the contrary that “nuclear has no role to play in a fully decarbonized power sector.” The four scientists will state that the anti-nuclear position of these environmental leaders is in fact causing unnecessary and severe harm to the environment and to the future of young people.
The scientists will outline the latest research on sea level rise, ocean acidification and ice sheet collapse supporting their conclusions about the increased urgency of tackling carbon emissions.
Dr. Hansen will brief journalists on his latest collaborative modelling and paleoclimate work, concluding that even 2C of global warming is “highly dangerous” and could lead to non-linear disintegration of ice sheets, ocean stratification and multi-meter sea level rise even within this century.
Dr. James Hansen is a professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Dr. Kerry Emanuel is a professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Tom Wigley is a climate scientist at the University of Adelaide.
Dr. Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and at the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science.