“Based on our calculations, we won’t meet the climate warming goals set by the Paris Agreement unless we speed up the spread of clean technology by a full order of magnitude, or about ten times faster than in the past,” said Gabriele Manoli, a former postdoctoral associate at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study.
The study used delayed differential equations to calculate the pace at which global per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide have increased since the Second Industrial Revolution — a period of rapid industrialization at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th. The researchers then compared this pace to the speed of new innovations in low-carbon-emitting technologies.
Using these historical trends coupled with projections of future global population growth, Manoli and his colleagues were able to estimate the likely pace of future emissions increases and also determine the speed at which climate-friendly technological innovation and implementation must occur to hold warming below the Paris Agreement’s 2o C target.
“It’s no longer enough to have emissions-reducing technologies,” he said. “We must scale them up and spread them globally at unprecedented speeds.”
“Sometimes these lags are technical in nature, but — as recent history amply demonstrates — they also can be caused by political or economic barriers,” Manoli explained. “Whatever the cause, our quantification of the delays historically associated with such challenges shows that a tenfold acceleration in the spread of green technologies is now necessary to cause some delay in the Doomsday Clock.”