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10 Scalable Solutions for Climate Change

By Sharon Chen
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At the UC Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit at the University of California, San Diego, fifty of the top experts from all 10 UC campuses and associated national laboratories put forward 10 scalable solutions for climate change. As Gov. Jerry Brown put it, “This is a call to action. We put all of our best minds in California on this – a very formidable force. Nothing less than that is required.” See the 10 scalable solutions below:

1. Reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and replace fossil-fueled energy systems with carbon neutral technologies. SLCPs have strong global warming potential, but only stay in the atmosphere for a brief period of time (days or weeks), which means that by tackling these pollutants, we will see immediate benefits.

2. Foster a global culture of climate action through coordinated communication and education. Bring together technology, policy, and innovation to speak to people about the issue.

3. Increase collaboration and multi-disciplinary action; stakeholders, community and religious leaders, researchers and academics from all disciplines, must work together to mitigate climate disruption.

4. Create more sustainable cities by scaling up subnational models of governance and collaboration.

5. Adopt market-based instruments to create efficient incentives for businesses and individuals to reduce CO2 emissions. This can include cap and trade, carbon pricing, emissions inventories, and adoption of efficient enforcement mechanisms.

6. Direct regulatory measures are needed for high emissions sectors not covered by market-based policies, while powerful incentives need to be in place to reward lowered emissions. Subsidies for emission-intensive activities need to be terminated.

7. Promote immediate widespread use of mature technologies such as photovoltaics, wind turbines, fuel cell technology, etc.

8. Aggressively support and promote innovations that accelerate the complete electrification of energy and transportation systems and improve building efficiency.

9. Immediately make maximum use of available technologies combined with regulations to reduce methane emissions by 50 percent and black carbon emissions by 90 percent. Phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2030 by amending the Montreal Protocol.

10.  Regenerate damaged natural ecosystems and restore soil organic carbon to improve natural sinks for carbon (through afforestation, reducing deforestation and restoration of soil organic carbon). Implement food waste reduction programs and energy recovery systems to maximize utilization of food produced and recover energy from food that is not consumed.

The solutions put forth at the UC Climate and Carbon Neutrality Summit are comprehensive – and actionable (California has already implemented seven of the ten solutions). Moreover, these solutions are necessary: to limit long-term global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius, cumulative emissions from now to 2050 must be less than 1 trillion tons and approach zero emissions post-2050. Solutions #7 to #9 cover technological solutions to accomplish these targets. For more details about each of these solutions, please see the executive summary; the full report will be published in April 2016.

UC researchers present 10 scalable solutions for climate change

Andy Murdock | UC Newsroom | October 27, 2015

University of California climate experts today (Oct. 27) announced 10 scalable solutions for moving the world towards carbon neutrality, a practical framework that outlines both immediate and longer-term actions for staving off catastrophic climate change.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who joined UC President Janet Napolitano at the UC Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit at UC San Diego, said the solutions from the UC Climate Solutions Group could help shape talks among global leaders at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris this November. 

“This is a call to action. If we put all our best minds together in California with the research integrity and capacity of the University of California, that is a very formidable force, and nothing less than that is required,” said Brown.

The urgency of action

The effects of global warming already are beginning to wreak havoc around the world, with direct impact on human lives. Napolitano called it one of the greatest security challenges the world faces.

“Climate change impacts issues as varied as disease management, food security, the preservation of water resources, the stability of fragile governments, and transportation infrastructure,” Napolitano said. “Addressing these challenges, and reducing our carbon footprint, is a moral imperative.”

The UC Climate Solutions Group, composed of 50 top experts from all 10 UC campuses and the associated national laboratories, also stressed the moral implications of climate change in the executive summary of their report, "Bending the Curve: Ten scalable solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability," highlighting that the people most at risk are the world’s 3 billion poorest people, while the majority of pollution is created by the wealthiest 1 billion.

“15 percent of us contribute 60 percent of the pollution. We’re leaving behind a planet of uncertain future for our children, grandchildren and generations unborn,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, chair of the UC Climate Solutions Group.

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