Wil Burns: New Study – Commitment Accounting of CO2 Emissions

The socio-economic inertia of carbon intensive infrastructure is a major obstacle to decarbonizing the world.

Global Environmental Politics

This post was written by Dr. Wil Burns.  Dr. Burns is Scholar in Residence at the Global Environmental Politics (GEP) program and serves as Co-Executive Director of the Washington Geoengineering Consortium, an initiative of the GEP program.  This post originally appeared on another blog of the GEP program, Teaching Climate/Energy Law & Policy.

Socolow_photo_7.7.14 Dr. Robert H. Socolow

A new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters assesses the potential impacts of cumulative emissions from existing fossil fuel plants built in the past few years (2010-2012). During this period, an average of 89 gigawatts of new coal generating capacity was added annually, with natural gas trends soaring at a similar pace during this time.
The study by Steven J. Davis and Robert H. Socolow, sought to quantify what they characterized as “an important component of socio-economic inertia,” which they denominated “committed emissions,” or the projected emissions from existing fossil fuel-burning infrastructure…

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