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Mitigation / Adaptation

Ed Reid's picture
Vice President, Marketing (Retired) / Executive Director (Retired) / President (Retired), Columbia Gas Distribution Companies / American Gas Cooling Center / Fire to Ice, Inc.

Industry Participation: Natural Gas Industry Research, Development and Demonstration Initiative Chair, Cooling Committee (1996-1999)   American Gas Association Marketing Section...

  • Member since 2003
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  • Dec 6, 2022
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Originally posted here

The principal thrust of the UNFCCC and the IPCC has been on climate change mitigation through reductions in global annual emissions of CO2 and other ‘Green House Gases’ (GHGs). The focal point of their efforts has been keeping the increase in the global average temperature anomaly to 2°C (later 1.5°C), primarily through reductions in global annual CO2 emissions. Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations are believed to be driving the global average temperature anomaly increase and to be exacerbating the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme weather events.

The EU nations, the US, Canada and Australia have adopted goals to reduce annual CO2 emissions and to achieve net zero annual CO2 emissions by 2050. The path to achieving these emissions reductions involves closing coal and natural gas generating units, and in some cases nuclear generating units, and replacing them with intermittent renewable wind and solar generation, supported by electricity storage and “Dispatchable Emission-Free Resources” (DEFRs).

The UN has determined that these nations are not achieving the emissions reduction pledges they have made and is calling for “greater ambition” on their part. These efforts are being bolstered by declaration of a “red alert” and repeated cries of “climate crisis”, “existential threat’ and “climate emergency”. The response of these nations, in the face of a global energy crisis, has been “lip service”, delays in planned nuclear and fossil generating plant closures and an increase in fossil generation.

The increased CO2 emissions resulting from the developed nations response to the energy crisis are being swamped by rapid increases in developing nation CO2 emissions, primarily from increases in coal-fired generation, but also from increases in natural gas generation. The result has been an unabated rate of increase of global annual CO2 emissions, rather than the reduction perceived to be necessary to reduce or eliminate climate change.

This situation is focusing increased attention on efforts to adapt to climate change by adapting to the impact of severe weather events which might be affected by climate change. Severe weather events, such as droughts, floods, tropical cyclones and tornadoes are not new occurrences and any affect of climate change on the frequency, severity and duration of those events is questionable at best. Wildfires are not severe weather events but are often triggered by weather events such as lightning storms.

Adaptation efforts can include construction of reservoirs to retain flood waters to prevent or lessen downstream damage and provide additional supplies of water for irrigation and residential, commercial and industrial consumption. Adaptation can also include avoiding placement of infrastructure on shorelines and in flood plains. Structures can be hardened to resist the effects of tropical cyclones and tornadoes. Forests can be cleared of underbrush and debris to reduce the availability of combustibles in the path of fires.

Mitigation efforts will not end climate change, which has been occurring for the entire history we have been able to study, though they might reduce or eliminate any anthropogenic component of future climate change. Adaptation efforts will not eliminate losses from severe weather events, though they reduce the resulting loss of life and property damage.

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