Linacre Fellow and Physicist behind Net Zero, Professor Myles Allen, will be giving a hybrid lecture at Gresham College on 11 October asking the big question, “Why Net Zero?”
“In a nutshell, because that is what it will take to stop global warming.” Professor Myles Allen will say. “That has been considered reasonably obvious and uncontroversial in the scientific community for around 15 years – this lecture series will explain why. But as more and more countries and companies around the world have committed to net zero, it seems to have become a more and more complicated and slippery concept, much to my frustration as a physicist.”
This lecture will tell the story of how the scientific community understood net zero back then, and understands it today, and why it called for a different way of thinking scientifically about the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures, moving on from the concept of a “safe level” of greenhouse gas concentrations that had dominated climate science and policy for a quarter-century prior to 2009.
“Unfortunately, much of the climate policy community is still wedded to pre-2009 thinking, focussed entirely on how we can reduce emissions in the short term, rather than the question of how we limit cumulative emissions overall. Reducing the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere slows the ongoing rate of warming, but to limit peak warming, we need to limit the total amount of carbon dioxide we release. This matters, because critical technologies that we will need to stop global warming are being neglected because all the focus is on what we need to do now to slow it down.”
Professor Allen will say safe disposal of Carbon Dioxide is an essential part of tackling climate change; “It was clear back in 2009, and even clearer now, that we will generate more carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels than we can afford to dump into the atmosphere. This simple fact completely changed my view of the climate challenge. It wasn’t just a problem of burning this second lump slower: it was a waste disposal problem. How do we scale up safe, permanent disposal of carbon dioxide so we stop fly-tipping it into the atmosphere?”
You can register to watch the hybrid lecture here – https://www.gresham.ac.uk/whats-on/why-net-zero