WASHINGTON, DC—Resources for the Future (RFF) today released a new installment of Resources Radio: “Which Climate Path Are We On?, with Zeke Hausfather.”
In this episode, host Daniel Raimi talks with Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank that studies technological solutions to environmental challenges. An expert on climate modeling, Hausfather outlines how representative concentration pathways (RCPs) are used to predict future emissions scenarios, and he explains why one frequently cited RCP—which estimates a “business-as-usual” scenario and largely assumes that coal use will increase—is misleading and should not be used as a metric to estimate temperature increases. Reflecting on the progress the world has made in transitioning away from coal, Hausfather nevertheless emphasizes how ambitious mitigation strategies are essential for addressing our global climate challenges.
Notable quotes from the podcast:
- Shifting carbon emissions sources: “What’s interesting, particularly in the last few years, is that global coal use is no longer the biggest driver of increasing emissions. These days, it’s actually natural gas that’s adding more CO2 emissions than anything else.” (4:38)
- Problems with conventional “business-as-usual” metrics: “In a world where global coal use peaked in 2013, where clean energy prices are falling, where 2019 saw a record decline in coal use, the idea that we’re going to turn around, re-embrace coal in a huge way, and have it drive pretty much all the growth and global energy use of the next century is very unlikely … But a lot of climate science papers in the intervening years have referred to [this scenario] as 'business-as-usual.' We’re making the argument that we really need to stop doing that.” (12:18)
- Next steps to hit climate targets: “[Our current climate trajectory] is a reason for hope: we are making progress, we have falling clean energy prices, we have clean renewables … The trends are moving in the right direction, but not nearly fast enough to get to where we need to in terms of these climate targets.” (18:15)
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