David Suzuki is a world-renowned scientist, broadcaster, activist, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and author of more than 30 books on ecology (written with files from senior editor Ian Hanington).
Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to keep the world from heating to catastrophic levels is entirely possible and would save money. Although emissions continue to rise, there’s still time to reverse course.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report includes a chart compiled by the world’s top scientists that shows how.
- Wind and solar together can cut eight billion tonnes of emissions annually — “equivalent to the combined emissions of the US and European Union today” and “at lower cost than just continuing with today’s electricity systems,” the Guardian reports.
- Making buildings, industry, lighting and appliances more energy efficient could cut 4.5 billion tonnes of emissions a year by 2030.
- Because forests, wetlands and other green spaces sequester carbon, stopping deforestation could cut four billion tonnes a year by 2030.
- Cutting methane emissions, especially those that leak from fossil fuel operations, could cut three billion tonnes. It also shows that fracking for fossil gas and production of so-called “liquefied natural gas” are not viable solutions.
- Other ways to lower emissions include switching to sustainable diets, such as eating less meat (1.7 billion tonnes), shifting toward public transit and active transportation (which has more potential than electric cars) and better agricultural methods.
Nuclear power and carbon capture and storage each deliver only 10 per cent of the results of wind and solar at far higher costs. It’s telling that those pathways are the ones touted most often by government, industry and media people resistant to greater energy independence.
Although electric cars are far better than fossil-fuelled cars, all personal vehicles waste resources, require massive infrastructure and are not efficient at moving people around.
The problem isn’t a shortage of solutions or exorbitant costs or any benefits of fossil fuels over renewable energy; it’s a lack of political will and, to some extent, public support. Nature is speaking, and science is confirming that we have no time to lose. We can’t afford not to change.