IST 2017: Taking the lead in real world transitions
18-21 June 2017 in Gothenburg
Hosted by Chalmers University of Technology and Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions (CIIST)
Year 2050 is just around the corner.
From a transition perspective three decades is not a long time. Yet the United Nations sustainability goals are set for 2030, and the pace of climate change calls for rapid change of massive sociotechnical systems. The challenges are enormous. Reaching ambitious societal targets rely on collective action, but also on private and public agents daring to take the lead.
The 8th International Conference on Innovation and Sustainability Transitions (IST 2017) will devote special attention to problems and challenges for those wanting to take action and do more. What understanding and conclusions can transition scholars bring to the table and what types of new knowledge do we need to search for?
Year 2017 is definitely just around the corner.
We therefore ask all transition scholars to save the dates, and join us next year for some stimulating and important days of interaction in the harbour of Gothenburg, a real world arena in transition.
On behalf of the organising committee,
Björn Sandén, Professor of Innovation and Sustainability, Chalmers University of Technology
Hans Hellsmark, Coordinator of Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions and IST2017
Last year, I wrote about the challenges of finding current data on greenhouse gas emissions. Lately, I've been looking into the numbers on the global carbon budget. My conclusion: while there are many good pieces written, most of the graphics are poor, and, while most generally agree on the numbers (+/- 30%), there is a lot of confusion because people don't use consistent units. Some people use GtC (giga tonnes of carbon) or a million, million metric tonnes of carbon. Others use GtCO2. Sometimes people will use GtCO2eq. And there is the not-so-occasional use of simply Gt (presumably we're supposed to just know whether its carbon or carbon dioxide).
Here is my graphic, depicting what I understand to be a fairly widely held view of the numbers.
The next picture gets into a little more detail. In the IPCC's 2014 AR5 report, they used 2011 data and, assuming a 66% chance of staying under 2 degrees Celsius, noted we had a remaining carbon budget of about 1000 GtCO2. As of 2014 we've used about 150 GtCO2 of this, the remainder is 850 GtCO2 or about 230 GtC.
Another well-known writing on this topic is Bill McKibben's piece in Rolling Stone from 2012. He also used 2011 numbers, but took the numbers from Carbon Tracker, which used an 80% confidence level of staying under 2 degrees Celsius. His number was 565 GtCO2 or 155 GtC. Again, since 2011 we've used about 25% of this remaining budget, leaving only about 440 GtCO2 or 120GtC.
There are other numbers in other places. Rob Jackson and colleagues in The Bridge came up with a remaining budget of 900 GtCO2 or 245 GtC with a 66% certainty level of staying below 2 degrees Celsius.
Of course all these numbers depend on our understanding of the climate system, what policies we come up with to mitigate land-use drivers, and the accuracy of the emissions data.
But the general story told is that, if we think about the Earth's fossil fuels, we've used about 40% of what we know to be recoverable, and we can use perhaps one-sixth to one-third of of what remains, depending on how much we are willing to risk going over two degrees Celsius. Of course, two degree Celsius is not a magic number. There's no way to know if there are tipping points below two degrees Celsius.
directs research at the Energy Trans Lab