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The role of carbon in climate change:   a life‐cycle‐thinking approach to a complex issue  Dr. Marco Raugei  The Bri(sh Carbon Group,  University of Manchester  20th December 2012


The Earth’s atmosphere 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Solar Radia>on 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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The Greenhouse Effect 

With NO Greenhouse Effect the avg. temperature of the Earth would be -19˚C (-2 ˚F)!

H2O, CO2, CH4, N2O, …

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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The Carbon Cycle 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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The Carbon Cycle  Exchange pool:  • 

The primary source of carbon to the atmosphere is outgassing from the  Earth's interior at mid‐ocean ridges, hotspot volcanoes, and subduc(on‐ related volcanic arcs.  •  Some of the outgassed carbon remains as CO2 in the atmosphere  •  Some is dissolved in the oceans as HCO3‐  •  Some is fixed by photosynthesis as biomass  

Reserve pool:  • 

Carbon is slowly removed into long‐term storage through  •  Pedogenesis (soil forma(on)  •  Fossil fuel forma>on (especially coal and black shales)   •  Sedimentary carbonate rock forma>on (largely biogenic) 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Homeosta>c climate control 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Climate records 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Climate records 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Climate records  392

(2012)

(1950) T ∝ 18O/16O ratio

(1950)

Source: J.R. Petit, J. Jouzel. et. al. Climate and atmospheric history of the past   420 000 years from the Vostok ice core in Antarctica, Nature 399, pp 429‐436, 1999  UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Anthropogenic carbon emissions 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Fossil fuel burning 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Deforesta>on

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Soil erosion 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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CaLle husbandry 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Non‐linearity and unpredictability: Oceanic ‘conveyor belts’ 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Non‐linearity and unpredictability: Arc>c methane 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Non‐linearity and unpredictability: El Niño Southern Oscill. 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Two possible reac>ons  1.  Anosognosia (noun):   Real or feigned ignorance of the presence of disease.  2.  Precau>onary principle:  “if an ac(on or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public  or to the environment, in the absence of scien(fic consensus that the  ac(on or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls  on those taking the ac(on”.  • 

In some  legal  systems,  as  in  the  law  of  the  European  Union,  the  applica(on  of  the  precau(onary  principle  has  been  made  a  statutory  requirement. 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Technological fixes: the importance of Life Cycle Thinking 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Technological fixes: the importance of Life Cycle Thinking  • 

The search for alterna(ve (less carbon‐intensive) energy sources… 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Technological fixes: the importance of Life Cycle Thinking  The search for alterna(ve (less carbon‐intensive) energy sources… 

• 

…must obey the laws of physics!   

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Technological fixes: the importance of Life Cycle Thinking 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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EROI of Photovoltaics: new calcula>ons 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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EROI of Photovoltaics: new calcula>ons  90 80 70

EROI

60 50 40 30 20 10

0 mono‐c Si  multi‐c Si  ribbon Si  CdTe PV  Oil (min.) Oil (max.) PV (PE‐ PV (PE‐ PV (PE‐ (PE‐eq.) eq.) eq.) eq.) UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

Coal (min.)

Co (ma

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Geo‐engineering solu>ons: uncertain and risky 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Beyond technological fixes 

I = P ∙ A ∙ T  Technology Impact

Affluence Population

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Addressing ‘P’ and ‘A’  • 

‘The Limits to Growth’ (Club of Rome/MIT, 1972) 

• 

‘De‐growth’ (Georgescu‐Roegen, 1979) 

• 

‘A Prosperous Way Down’ (Odum and Odum, 2001) 

• 

‘Sustainable retreat rather than sustainable development’ (Lovelock, 2006) 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Conclusions • 

Recognizing the problem 

• 

Life Cycle Thinking 

• 

‘Out of the box’ thinking 

• 

Paradigm shiZ 

• 

‘Way down’ does NOT have to mean ‘back to the cave’! 

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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Thank you  • 

Ques>ons?

• 

Comments?

• 

Concerns? Dr. Marco Raugei (marco.raugei@esci.upf.edu) UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change, ESCI – Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK Center for Life Cycle Analysis, Columbia University, New York (NY), USA

UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change

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The role of carbon in climate change:  a life‐cycle‐thinking approach to a complex issue  

The role of carbon in climate change:  a life‐cycle‐thinking approach to a complex issue

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