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December 16, 2008

Carbon Productivity and Rate of Progress

Research by the McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey's Climate Change Special Initiative carbon productivity must reach $7,300 by 2050—a tenfold increase over today.

A tenfold increase in carbon productivity sounds daunting, but it is a type of challenge that humankind has met before. U.S. labor productivity increased tenfold over a 125-year period from 1830 to 1955. We now need a clean-energy revolution on the same scale as the Industrial Revolution. But we probably have less than 40 years before emissions lead to irreversible damage. The clean-energy revolution has to happen three times faster than the Industrial Revolution did.

Our colleagues from around the world have conducted a detailed bottom-up analysis of just what such a clean-energy revolution would entail and how much it would cost—country by country and industry sector by industry sector. Overall, the shift to a low-carbon economy would require new global capital investment averaging $570 billion per year between 2010 and 2030.

This sounds like a lot, but it is only about 2 to 4 percent of expected capital expenditures during this period. And because the money would largely go into long-life assets (e.g., better buildings, cleaner power sources, low-emissions transport), most of it would be financed through borrowing over time.

our analysis estimates that 70 percent of the technologies needed are either available today or are likely to be commercially viable in the coming decade. Renewable technologies, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, already account for 12 percent of Germany's power today and have the potential for dramatic expansion. For example, we estimate that the renewables share of U.S. power could almost triple from 8 percent today to 23 percent by 2030 at a reasonable cost.







A NASA study relates estimates of the amount of oil and coal to atmospheric CO2.
Limits on how much oil and coal that we can affordably get could provide a cap on the maximum level of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, in either the case of running our of oil and coal or shifting to clean sources of energy, we still have to shift to clean sources of energy.

The Nasa study has diagrams here and more of the scenarios converted into charts here

FURTHER READING
Los Alamos Green Freedom plan : make fuel from the air

Green Freedom pdf

Converting coal pollution into fuel

Reviewing Mckinsey Consulting Plans and cost analysis for countering climate change

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