Quick Fact About Rapidly Rising CO2 Levels and
an Opportunity to Accelerate Climate Action on a Global Scale
Not only are global atmospheric CO2 levels high, they are rising at a significantly increasing rate. For example, in the last 17 years, atmospheric CO2 levels have risen about as much as they did over the 200 years after the start of the industrial revolution. To illustrate this fact, we have added some key dates to the very informative graph shown below that was published by the Financial Times (FT) on May 13, 2022 about the rapidly rising atmospheric CO2 levels. The added dates include the approximate start of the industrial revolution (1760) and 2004, which is 17 years before 2021.
In this same FT article Pieter Tans, who is a senior scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said that “Not only were carbon dioxide levels high, they were also rising faster and faster” and “So we are going in the wrong direction, at maximum speed.”
To calculate the amount of CO2 rise after the start of the industrial revolution, we used data from the CO2Levels.org website for the atmospheric CO2 concentrations (ppm) in 1760. As well, we used data from the NOAA website for the data at the Mauna Loa CO2 annual mean data for atmospheric CO2 concentrations between 1960 and 2021 at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii. Our calculations are as follows:
Difference between CO2 Levels from 1960 to 1760 = 316.91 ppm – 277.6 ppm = a difference of 39.31 ppm CO2 in 200 years
Difference between CO2 Levels from 2021 to 2004 = 416.45 ppm – 377.70 ppm = a difference of 38.75 ppm CO2 in 17 years
Fortunately, a cost-effective way to accelerate climate action has emerged due to rapid simultaneous advances in technologies in several complementary areas. It is now possible to integrate available technologies into facilities to generate reliable energy with negative carbon emissions. For example, there have been advancements in power generation with carbon capture, biochar production, conversion of CO2 to renewable fuel, direct air capture, energy storage and renewable energy technologies. As a result, an existing biomass-fueled power station can be enhanced to include carbon capture, biochar production, conversion of CO2 to renewable fuel, energy storage and renewable energy. This enhancement will enable this facility to provide reliable power to the local electric grid, produce biochar and use their surplus power to produce renewable fuel. To view a simplified schematic of this example, see the below image:
One important feature of this combination of technology areas is that it is not dependent on any one company’s technology. As a result, organizations that want to implement this combination of technologies have many choices and should choose their best options.
The above combination of technologies for utilizing biomass, wind and solar energy is only one example of what can be done on a substantial scale. There are many more such as the combination proposed in an article published in oilprice.com, which was prepared by Paul Stevers.
Since there are so many technology options in each technology area to consider, private sector companies can benefit greatly by engaging experts in sustainability-related research centres in universities such as the planned new Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, which recently received a $1.1 billion donation from John Doerr. By investing in this new school, it seems that Mr. Doerr is working to implement his vision for accelerating large-scale climate action, which he outlines in his impressive book, Speed & Scale. With its new funding, this school can demonstrate the benefits of the private sector working closely with sustainability-related research centres to scale-up innovative combinations of technologies.
Recently, the US Department of Energy (DOE) launched their US$20bn Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. This office would likely be interested to help fund demonstration facilities of innovative combinations of technologies such as the one indicated above.
After a substantial facility becomes operational, it can be re-financed with a Green Bond that institutional investors can purchase. This enables the original investors to receive their capital back and build their next facility.
There are many buyers of Green Bonds these days. For example, the members of The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which includes firms that collectively have over US$130 trillion under management, would likely be buyers of these bonds.
We have prepared a summary webpage providing an overview of useful technology combinations that can be implemented globally. To view this webpage on ClimateSAN, visit: Combining Technologies to Produce Reliable Carbon-Negative Energy. Recently, Think Renewables Group launched a new company called Integrated ClimateTech (iClimateTech). This new company created this related webpage: Integrating Technologies to Produce Reliable Carbon-Negative Energy.