Technology alone cannot tackle global warming, study shows


ENGINEERING initiatives to counteract climate change – such as capturing emissions or reflecting sunlight into space – are not enough to limit global warming during the next decades, research shows.

Governments must commit to lowering their carbon dioxide emissions at the Climate Summit in Paris later this year to make a significant impact on counteracting climate change, a European study has shown.

The report shows that technologies such as carbon capture and storage – in which emissions from industrial plants are captured and stored deep underground – and sunlight reflection technology have potential for helping to mitigate climate change in decades to come.

However, they cannot have an impact in the short term.

Research by an international team of climate scientists, including experts from the University of Edinburgh, found that it is not yet clear whether any proposed technology could be developed to significantly reduce climate change.

The people's climate march  2015
The people’s climate march 2015


It is also unclear whether the potential impact of climate engineering on society and the environment would be acceptable, or what its impact on ecosystems might be, experts say.

They add that scientists should continue to investigate climate engineering techniques to understand what potential they might have.

They conclude, however, that these should not be expected to play a significant role in climate policy for several decades.

The report by the European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering (EuTRACE) was funded by the EU.

It was led by IASS Berlin and involved researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, East Anglia, Exeter and Bristol, and across Europe.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, of the University of Edinburgh, who contributed to the report, said: “Greenhouse gas re-capture is not an easy option to prevent global change. If industrial societies continue to emit fossil carbon and clear forests, the future looks like a series of bad choices.

“Inventing and constructing climate engineering is too slow, it is not clear who will pay for it or regulate it, and there can be negative impacts on many countries, particularly poorer nations.”