Negative Emissions Technology News 03

NET News Issue 3: Editorial

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The fact that our addiction to fossil fuels causes global warming has been known for over 120 years – since the pioneering 1896 calculations of Svante Arrhenius – and, although the nature of the climate impact has emerged more gradually, it has become increasingly clear over recent decades that that impact has a good chance of being catastrophic.

It has also been clear, at least since the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, that the solution to this problem requires a dramatic and comprehensive change in behaviours and lifestyles, particularly in western economies, leading to a drastic and sustained reduction in fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Until now, our politicians have stalled, considering such a path to be “too damned hard!”

The events of the last few months cast a new light on that view. A dramatic and comprehensive change in behaviours and lifestyles has been forced upon a large part of the global population, leading to a drastic (and, it is to be hoped, sustained) drop in fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions. That people have (for the most part) accepted this in order to reduce the relatively small risk to their own life expectation, rather than as the price to pay to reduce the “almost certain” probability of the early deaths of millions in decades to come, is a subject for the ethicists among our readers.

Hopefully soon, circumstances will allow a more measured reassessment of what is or is not possible. If recent events lead to a greater readiness to bring about the changes needed to address the impending climate catastrophe, this may prove to be a priceless legacy from the many who have so sadly fallen in the face of the current pandemic.

The current edition of NET News can be downloaded here, and covers recent key developments in this growing sector. We look forward to keeping you up-to-date with developments across the NET field – from R&D to policy, governance, and social license – in future issues.

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