UC Office of the President Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions Digital Textbook
Title Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions
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Authors Ramanathan, Veerabhadran Aines, Roger Auffhammer, Max et al.
Publication Date 2019-09-04
License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ 4.0 Peer reviewed
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V. R A M A N AT H A N (Editor)
A DA M M I L L A R D – B A L L (Co-editor) M I C H E L L E N I E M A N N (Co-editor)
S COT T F R I E S E (Producer)C L
About the Cover
The Age of Humans and Climate Disruption We are living in the age of humans, and there is no denying that the technologies innovated by Homo sapiens have turned us into a major geologic force. The resulting modification of the land, the oceans, and the atmosphere has poisoned our bodies, imperiled our environment, and disrupted the planet’s cli- mate. The composite image on the cover acknowledges the inextricable link that humans have with our planet. To solve the imminent problem of climate disruption, human beings have to realize that we all belong to the same Homo sapiens species. We must work together for the com- mon good since the problems we face require global solutions. Think local, to protect your family and community, but act global. This is the spirit of the book you are about to read. It describes how the climate change problem can still be solved.
V. Ramanathan University of California, San Diego
Scott Friese University of California, Office of the President
BENDING THE CURVE Climate Change Solutions
A DA M M I L L A R D – B A L L (Co-editor) M I C H E L L E N I E M A N N (Co-editor)
S COT T F R I E S E (Producer)
V. R A M A N AT H A N (Editor)
Copyright © 2019 The Regents of the University of California. For certain images and other contributions, the copyright holders are named in the captions.
The views and opinions expressed in each chapter of Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions are those of the respective chapter authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of other book contributors or The Regents of the University of California.
This book is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, redistribute, and transmit the work for any purpose providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licenses are available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0.
This project was made possible through an EDUCAUSE/NGLC grant.
First published in 2019 by The Regents of the University of California. For inquiries, please contact:
Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs University of California, Office of the President 1111 Franklin Street Oakland, CA 94607 www.ucop.edu
Layout and production by BookMatters, Berkeley
C O N T E N T S
Foreword v J A N E T N A P O L I TA N O
How to Use This Book and the Learning Companion xvi
PART I CONCEPTS AND SOLUTIONS
1 Climate Change 1-1 V. R A M A N AT H A N
2 Humans, Nature, and the Quest for Climate Justice 2-1 F O N N A F O R M A N and DAV I D P E L LOW
3 Climate Change and Human Health 3-1 G I N A S O LO M O N
4 Overview of the Ten Solutions for Bending the Curve 4-1 V. R A M A N AT H A N and J O N AT H A N CO L E
PART II TEN SOLUTIONS
5 Your Leadership: Social Movements and Social Solutions to Climate Change 5-1 H A H R I E H A N and M I C H E L L E N I E M A N N
6 Social Transformation: Changing Attitudes, Norms, and Behaviors 6-1 F O N N A F O R M A N
7 Religion, Ethics, and Climate Change 7-1 M A RY E V E LY N T U C K E R
8 Communicating Climate Change Science 8-1 R I C H A R D C . J. S O M E RV I L L E
9 Lessons from California 9-1 A DA M M I L L A R D – B A L L and DA N I E L P R E S S
10 The Paris Agreement and Its Implementation 10-1 DAV I D G . V I C TO R
11 Economics: Emissions, Impacts, and Policy 11-1 M A X I M I L I A N A U F F H A M M E R
12 Cost-Effective Climate Policies 12-1 M A R K R . J A CO B S E N
13 Two Evolving Energy Technology Pathways 13-1 S COT T S A M U E L S E N
14 Environmentally Sustainable Transportation 14-1 M AT T H E W B A RT H and DA N I E L S P E R L I N G
15 Technologies for Super Pollutants Mitigation 15-1 V. R A M A N AT H A N , D U RWO O D Z A E L K E , and J O N AT H A N CO L E
16 Enhancing Carbon Sinks in Natural and Working Lands 16-1 W H E N D E E L . S I LV E R
PART III CURRENT TOPICS
17 Sea Level Rise from Melting Ice 17-1 E R I C R I G N OT
18 Atmospheric Carbon Extraction: Scope, Available Technologies, and Challenges 18-1 R O G E R A I N E S
19 Local Solutions 19-1 K E I T H P E Z ZO L I
Author Biographies BIOS-1
F O R E W O R D
Climate change is among the most urgent risks we face in the twenty- first century. Across the globe, natural disasters are becoming more prevalent and weather patterns are turning more volatile. We’re wit- nessing an increase in wildfires, rising sea levels, and the extinction of plants and animals. Accelerating changes in our climate are affecting everything from disease management and food security to immigration patterns and water resources.
These developments impact not only our natural environment, but also our economy, our national security, and our very way of life.
Over my 25-year career in public service, I’ve observed the wide- spread effects of climate change on communities across the United States. As Governor of Arizona, I saw how a warming climate contrib- uted to dangerous weather conditions such as drought and extreme heat across the American Southwest. Later, as the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, I worked to counter negative climate impacts on our nation’s critical security infrastructure, from airports to military facilities to our transportation networks.
Over time, it became clear to me that climate change was—and is—a greater threat to our security, and to the futures of citizens around the globe, than any other. For the most vulnerable populations—including children, the elderly, and low-income and indigenous communities—the risk is even more severe.
This conviction has shaped my focus on sustainability as the Pres- ident of the University of California. As a pioneer in climate research for decades, UC was already a hub for ambitious sustainability work when I arrived. In one of my first acts as UC President, I launched the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative, a bold effort to leverage the university’s climate expertise to achieve systemwide carbon neutrality by 2025. I knew that eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from our campuses, medical centers, and laboratories would be challenging. But by setting
this audacious goal, we mobilized dozens of efforts that are transform- ing our institutional approach to sustainability.
In 2014, the Carbon Neutrality Initiative brought together 50 re- searchers and scholars from across the UC system—led by UC San Diego Professor Ram Ramanathan—to collaborate on the groundbreaking Bend- ing the Curve report. It outlined 10 solutions that could change the tra- jectory of global carbon emissions and guide other institutions in their sustainability efforts. Modeled off of UC’s own institutional sustainability commitments, the report broke new ground with its interdisciplinary focus, relying on the knowledge of experts from a broad spectrum of fields ranging from climate science to ethics, economics, ecology, en- ergy, environmental justice, political science, and religion.
The practical, cross-sector approach outlined in the Bending the Curve report has rippled across other UC sustainability efforts. Inspired by the report, faculty members developed a new multi-disciplinary online course that challenges students to identify locally and globally scalable climate solutions. The class has been launched on six UC cam- puses, and in 2018 San Diego State University became the first California State University institution to pilot the course. In line with UC’s focus on scalability, the course is designed to be rapidly expanded at universities across the U.S. and abroad, with the goal of creating a new generation of engaged climate experts.
In further recognition of the need to share expertise and best prac- tices, in 2018 UC spearheaded the launch of the University Climate Change Coalition, a collective of 20 research universities across the US, Canada, and Mexico who are working together to advance local and regional climate action. Our coalition has since brought together more than 2,600 leaders from the public, private, and academic sectors to collaborate on climate solutions and challenges.
With their emphasis on research and innovation in service of the public good, universities like UC are well positioned to generate the discoveries and innovations the world will need to address climate change. By using our campuses and facilities as living laboratories of sustainability—powered by the expertise and the energy of our faculty and students—we can determine what technologies and approaches work, and how they can be scaled up.
Fortunately, universities aren’t the only institutions working to gen- erate new solutions and train the next generation of climate champions. Across the country, we have seen a massive groundswell of institutions— cities and states, the private sector, foundations and nonprofits, and citizen advocates—stepping up to this challenge. Many of them have been working on this issue for decades. What unites all of us in our efforts is the recognition that making a real change on a large scale will require creativity, persistence, and collaboration.
We have that responsibility as scientists, leaders, and citizens of the planet. Let us work together and hold each other to that great responsibility.
Janet Napolitano University of California, Office of the President
Janet Napolitano is the twentieth president of the University of California. She pre- viously served as the US secretary of homeland security from 2009 to 2013, as governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, as attorney general of Arizona from 1998 to 2003, and as US attorney for the District of Arizona from 1993 to 1997.
P R E F A C E
The book you are reading is years—centuries, even—in the making. You can trace its inspiration back to the start of the Industrial Revolution, when advances in manufacturing processes triggered massive changes in all aspects of daily life, including how human beings interacted with their environment and one another. These advances, however, did not come without a cost. As the global population grew and communities adapted to a higher quality of life, the amount of heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere that could be traced to human activity increased markedly.
The title of this book refers to the resulting rise in global tempera- ture, represented as an ever-steepening curve over time. Bending that upward curve to decrease the unsustainable trajectory of an increasing global temperature requires a significant focus on reducing the release of emissions of carbon dioxide and four short-lived climate pollutants into the air. Without mitigation, the warming will reach dangerous levels before 2050 and we will be transitioning from climate change to climate disruption. The timeline for bending the warming curve is aggressive. Mitigation actions have already begun in many cities, states, and na- tions. It must proceed at a rapid pace such that emissions of all climate- warming pollutants will be reduced by 50% to 80% by 2050, followed by ongoing carbon neutrality before 2100. We must also be prepared to extract as much as 500 billion to a trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the air during this century. Bending the curve of climate change has emerged as the challenge of our time.
In 2013, University of California President Janet Napolitano an- nounced the Climate Neutrality Initiative, a landmark initiative that commits the university to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from its vehicle fleet and physical structures by the year 2025. This commitment to the health of the planet brought together more than 50 UC research- ers and scholars in the fall of 2015 to identify solutions that can flatten
the curve of climate change. Out of this collaboration emerged Bending the Curve: 10 Scalable Solutions for Carbon Neutrality and Climate Stability (V. Ramanathan et al.). The executive summary was published in 2015, while the full report appeared in 2016.
This book is an offshoot of the Bending the Curve report. Within those 10 solutions is a call to “foster a global culture of climate action through coordinated public communication and education at local to global scales.” The University of California now offers a multidisciplinary undergraduate course based on the report that consists of 18 original lectures by 23 faculty representing 9 UC campuses and national labora- tories. The course is unique in that it goes beyond the scientific under- pinnings of climate change and focuses on solutions to the problems that global warming has created. With this book our aim is to further extend the call to bend the curve with 19 chapters that expand on those solutions, many written by the same UC scholars and researchers who shaped the Bending the Curve report and contributed lectures to the course.
Bending the curve of climate change is a battle against time and a battle for the well-being of our children and grandchildren. To tackle this crisis, we need a million climate stewards to safeguard the planet and those who call it home. Fortunately, there is still time and this book gives you the tools to help solve the defining problem of our age.
Scott Friese University of California, Office of the President
V. Ramanathan University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
I N T R O D U C T I O N
Climate change is one of the most far-reaching social and political challenges that humans have ever faced. “Climate change is the defin- ing issue of our time . . . we face a direct existential threat,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The Pope calls climate change “a global problem with grave implications” and “one of the principal chal- lenges facing humanity in our day.” Climate change is part of a much broader problem of unsustainable consumption of natural resources, as captured in the declaration by the Kenyan Nobel Laureate, Wangari Maathai: “Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own.”
That the climate is changing—and that humans are responsible—is not in serious doubt. “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” according to the most prominent international scientific body of over 1,000 climate scientists for assessing climate change, the Intergovern- mental Panel on Climate Change. “Human influence on the climate sys- tem is clear.”
What is open to question, however, is how we, as a species, can bend the curve of planetary warming before it is too late. That warming curve is illustrated in stylized form on the title page of this book and represents that the world needs to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, and to cut emissions to close to zero soon after. We don’t have much time. We have already emitted 2.2 trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the air, and the third trillion will be dumped into the air by 2030. How can we rapidly phase out our dependence on fossil fuels? How can we quicken the pace of technological innovation and create the social, political, and economic impetus to implement those solutions that are already available? How can we do so in a way that helps, not harms, the most disadvantaged people in society?
The industrial era was ushered in with the invention of the im- proved steam engine by the Scottish engineer James Watt in 1769. The Industrial Revolution that followed benefited humanity immensely with vastly improved health and wealth, but the improvement in the human condition came at a huge and unacceptable cost to the environment. Largely as a result of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the planet has already warmed by about 1°C (1.8°F) since preindustrial times. If emissions continue at the present rate, the planetary warming is highly likely to reach 1.5°C (2.7°F) before 2030. The last time the planet was this warm was 130,000 years ago, and it was sufficient to increase sea level by about 6 to 9 meters (20 to 30 feet). With unchecked emissions beyond 2030, the warming could exceed 2°C by 2050, exposing more than 1.5 billion people to extreme heat waves, storms, floods, fires, droughts, and a variety of diseases.
Such projections were thought to be unrealistic or dystopian in the first decade of the twenty-first century, but not anymore. The science linking warming to extreme weather has improved so dramatically in the years following the Paris climate summit (in 2015) that the normally cautious American Meteorological Society declared in 2017: “We are experiencing new weather extremes because we have created a new climate.” The prestigious Lancet Commission, consisting of medical ex- perts in Britain, concluded in 2015: “The effects of climate change are being felt today, and future projections represent an unacceptably high and potentially catastrophic risk to human health.”
Scientists by and large accept that we have entered the age of hu- mans—the Anthropocene. In other words, we have transitioned from the Holocene epoch with its relatively stable climate to the Anthropo- cene, a period when climate change has led to climate disruption. Such far-reaching disruptions are no longer being debated among the vast majority (97%) of scientists.
How This Book Is Organized This book is about solutions. More than 20 leading experts, most at the University of California, share their analyses of how to bend the curve of planetary warming. Taken together, the following chapters tell us that the deep emission cuts that are required are well within our
technical capabilities. This book demonstrates, however, that deploying the technological solutions demands a broad understanding of the mul- tidimensional aspects of the climate change problem.
The book consists of 19 chapters organized by themes into three parts: The first part sets the stage for the entire book by introducing concepts and solutions. The second part consists of 12 chapters that describe in more detail the solutions and their multidimensional nature, which capture aspects of societal transformation, governance, market instruments, technology measures, and ecosystem restoration. The third part focuses on special topics that are vital for developing mitigation solutions.
The first 4 chapters of the book set the stage for the entire book by introducing concepts and solutions. Chapter 1, Climate Change, is a broad summary of climate change science that describes what we know, how we know what we know, and the future extreme climates society will inherit this century if we do not bend the curve in time. Chapter 2, Humans, Nature, and the Quest for Climate Justice, gives a broad background on the societal behavior and history that led to the current state of affairs, while Chapter 3, Climate Change and Human Health, describes the impacts of climate change on health—perhaps the most important motivation for urgent action. Chapter 4, Overview of the Ten Solutions for Bending the Curve, introduces readers to ten solutions to bend the curve.
Chapters 5 through 8 together argue that we need to foster a global culture of climate action that creates the will to take the measures re- quired. Such a culture can be created by social movements (Chapter 5) and by behavioral changes through changing social norms (Chapter 6). Chapter 7, Religion, Ethics, and Climate Change, brings up a major tool for solving the climate change problem, of forming an alliance with leaders from a range of religious belief systems to effect large-scale societal transformation. Communication is a fundamental requirement for fostering a global culture of climate action, as argued in Chapter 8, which also offers effective communication techniques to persuade those who have difficulty accepting climate change science, the data, and the predictions.
Chapters 9 and 10 deal with governance solutions that explore
policymaking at vastly different scales—the local and the global. Locally and regionally, many cities and states in the United States are already well on the road to bending the curve and are acting jointly through coalitions such as C40 Cities; the case of the state of California is an- alyzed in detail in Chapter 9. But these leaders—city mayors and state governors—need broad-based political support to continue to deepen their efforts, while other leaders need to be pushed into action. At the global level, Chapter 10 shows the promise of new models of interna- tional cooperation, and the potential to build on the Paris Agreement.
Solutions related to market instruments are explored in two chapters that analyze climate change through an economic lens. Chapters 11 and 12 discuss market-based, regulatory, and policy approaches such as carbon pricing that encourage firms and individuals to switch to cleaner production methods, prioritize energy efficiency, and travel more sus- tainably. The chapters also highlight how market instruments are work- ing successfully in many parts of the world.
Technological measures are detailed in Chapters 13 to 15, which that introduce you to the tools to solve the problem. New breakthroughs in renewable energy, vehicle electrification, and smart grids, detailed in Chapters 13 and 14, will help to bring down the cost of emission reductions and help us reach zero emissions shortly after 2050. But reductions in carbon emissions of 30% to 40% are already feasible using mature technologies that are available today. Chapter 15 shows that tackling short-lived climate pollutants—such as methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons, and ozone—can bend the curve quickly, giving time for the carbon reduction measures to take effect.
Chapter 16 describes natural and managed ecosystem solutions and argues that much of the climate change remedy has already been pro- vided by nature. As this chapter highlights, we can reduce emissions by one-quarter through tackling deforestation, regenerating damaged natural ecosystems, improving the ability of soils to store carbon, and reducing food waste.
The book concludes with three more chapters on special topics. Chapter 17, Sea Level Rise from Melting Ice, addresses the impact of the possible disintegration of the massive ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. Chapter 18, Atmospheric Carbon Extraction: Scope,
Available Technologies, and Challenges, addresses a major emerging theme in climate solutions, deploying technological measures to extract carbon from the atmosphere. Chapter 19, Local Solutions, describes a local community-scale living laboratory that is attempting societal transformation.
What This Book Does Not Address This book does not address adaptation to climate change. The world has already passed the point where some adaptation will be needed, such as changing agricultural practices, retreating from or protecting coastlines threatened by rising sea levels, and managing increased heat waves and droughts. But that is not our focus here. Nor do we discuss climate engineering—drastic, and controversial, measures to try to stave off climate change, such as injecting millions of tons of sulfur into the atmosphere. Bending the curve of planetary warming must remain the first priority—reducing emissions enough to allow us time to adapt and avoiding the potentially disastrous unintended consequences of climate engineering.
Who Is This Book For? This book is written for anyone who cares about the future of the planet and human well-being. The chapters will help you understand how indi- viduals, community groups, businesses, religious leaders, mayors, heads of state—in short, everyone—can work to bend the emissions curve.
What you will learn from the chapters in this book is this: climate change is not a question of political beliefs but a dominant scientific and societal issue, and without the fast actions described here to bend the curve, it can quickly morph into an issue of incalculable human tragedy.
We’ve designed each chapter as a stand-alone resource that can be read independently, in any order. If you aren’t familiar with climate science, though, it will help to start with Chapter 1, which explains how and why the climate is changing, as well as the likely impacts under a “business as usual” scenario. And the solutions that can bend the warming curve are interconnected. To see this, read Chapter 4, which introduces the ten solutions and explains how they fall into a series of
six clusters that involve science, societal transformation, governance, markets, technology, and ecosystems.
Each chapter is written for a generalist audience—nonexpert readers at the level of a second-year undergraduate student—with little assumed in the way of prior knowledge. If you are trained as a microbiologist, you can jump right into the chapters that draw on political science and psychology. If you are an artist or a social scientist, Chapter 1 will in- troduce you to the physical principles and evidence that demonstrates how and why humans are changing the climate. Key terms, especially those that might be unfamiliar, are boldfaced and defined when first used. Given the interconnected nature of the climate challenge, such an interdisciplinary approach is essential. Climate science, economics, and engineering all just have a piece of the puzzle. The learning objectives at the start of each chapter will give you a road map for what you can take away. Discussion questions in the learning companion to this book provide an opportunity to extend your understanding through talking with classmates, friends, or family members. And if you want to delve further, references and in some cases additional readings are given at the end of each chapter.
After you read this book, we hope you are convinced of two things. First, climate change is a major problem for all human beings. Second, the solutions are within reach. But how will that social and economic transformation be brought about? Bending the curve will take a world of climate champions who can innovate and implement climate solutions. This book will help you to join their ranks.
Adam Millard-Ball University of California, Santa Cruz
V. Ramanathan University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
H O W T O U S E T H I S B O O K A N D T H E L E A R N I N G C O M P A N I O N
Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions brings together leading ex- perts from diverse areas of academia and research to address the mul- tidimensional aspect of climate change. As an interdisciplinary book, it has been written to appeal to a broad audience, including students and instructors in a wide range of educational settings, as well as readers beyond the classroom. The chapters do not assume that the reader has prior knowledge of climate change science.
To help all audiences gain the most from this book, we have also developed a learning companion that includes questions and resources to help readers connect ideas, understand key concepts, and increase their ability to effectively discuss and explain climate change solutions. The learning companion is available for download through the California Digital Library as a PDF in print-ready format.
For Students Each chapter in the book focuses on a particular aspect of climate change. To support your learning, each chapter includes an overview that highlights the key concepts presented by the author(s). We rec- ommend that you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the focus of each chapter before diving in. For those of you who are interested in learning more about the focus of a particular chapter, please consult the text sources at the end of the chapter as well as a list of additional resources in the learning companion that have been provided on a par- ticular topic.