Now is the time to act
We might ask ourselves: When should we start to act? How fast should be act? What goals should we pursue? We are moving from a question of science to one of management. We have to decide how much we are willing to risk, and what actions are viable, reasonable and feasible.
The latest IPCC report gives us some guidelines. For the first time, it quantified the maximum amount of carbon than can be emitted without exceeding the 2 ºC ceiling: 2,900 GtC, two-thirds of which (1,900 GtC) had already been emitted by 2011. It is estimated that, so as not to exceed the 2 ºC ceiling, it is necessary to achieve zero net emissions by 2100 (i.e. no fossil fuel combustion, or using fossil fuels for power generation with CCS).
The burden of effort must be shared. In this context, it's important to mention the political climate in the EU. The INDC that the EU put forward at COP21 involves reducing emissions by 40% with respect to 1990, which is perfectly in line with the general requirement of achieving a 50% global reduction by 2050. Obviously, this will require an ambitious action plan involving policies to increase renewable energy use and energy efficiency.
We are going in the right direction, and must start to take action. Delaying action any further would mean having to make a much greater emission reduction effort to achieve the objectives, with the result that it would be increasingly more difficult and expensive to address the problem.
Guest post written by Carmen Becerril Martínez, External Director from ACCIONA, and Magdalena García Mora, Manager of Analysis of Energy policies and Climate Change from ACCIONA.