US climate envoy criticised for optimism on clean tech

US climate envoy criticised for optimism on clean tech
US climate envoy John Kerry. Source: BBC
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: US climate envoy has been criticised and ridiculed for saying technologies that don’t yet exist will play a huge role in stabilising the climate.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, John Kerry said the United States was leading the world on climate change – and rapidly phasing out coal-fired power stations.

But US climate envoy rejected a suggestion that Americans need to change their consumption routines by, say, eating less meat.

“You don’t have to give up quality of life to achieve some of the things we want to achieve,” he said.

“I’m told by scientists that 50% of the reductions we have to make (to get to near zero emissions) by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies we don’t yet have.”

But Kerry’s faith in unknown technologies has left some leading engineers aghast.

“It’s virtually impossible for new energy infrastructure technologies to have a significant effect on global emissions in the time we have left to act,” said Julian Allwood, professor of engineering and the environment at the University of Cambridge.

The professor warned that with every new energy-infrastructure technology so far, it’s taken 30-100 years from invention to 5% penetration of existing markets.

He said “Firstly, the new idea is developed from laboratory through increasing pilot scales to initial introduction to national systems.”

Dr Jen Baxter, a spokeswoman for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, agreed that Mr Kerry’s timescale “seems very optimistic”.

She said some vital existing technologies such as sucking CO2 directly from the air and capturing carbon from power stations are not yet ready for mass usage.

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