Kevin Anderson avoids saying those words, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion from his recent arguments here (and similarly at Nature here).
I sometimes find Anderson a bit too alarmist on the physics. But I think the thrust of this article is totally and sadly true.
The takeaway points:
integrated assessment models are hard-wired to deliver politically palatable outcomes
the carbon budgets needed for a reasonable probability of avoiding the 2°C characterisation of dangerous climate change demand profound and immediate changes to the consumption and production of energy for a “likely” chance of 2°C, requires global reductions in emissions from energy of at least 10% p.a. by 2025, with complete cessation of all carbon dioxide emissions from the energy system by 2050
Whilst the endeavours of the IPCC, since its inception in 1988, are to be welcomed, I have grave reservations as to how the implications of their analysis are being reported.
ubiquitous use of speculative negative emissions to expand the available 2°C carbon budgets, implies a deeply entrenched and systemic bias in favour of delivering politically palatable rather than scientifically balanced emission scenarios
In plain language, the complete set of 400 IPCC scenarios for a 50% or better chance of 2°C assume either an ability to travel back in time or the successful and large-scale uptake of speculative negative emission technologies.
the failure of the scientific community to vociferously counter the portrayal of the findings as challenging but incremental suggests vested interests and the economic hegemony may be preventing scientific openness and freedom of expression.
With a growing economy of 3% p.a. the reduction in carbon intensity of global GDP would need to be nearer 13% p.a.; higher still for wealthier industrialised nations, and higher yet again for those individuals with well above average carbon footprints
there remains an almost global-scale cognitive dissonance with regards to acknowledging the quantitative implications of the analysis, including by many of those contributing to its development. We simply are not prepared to accept the revolutionary implications of our own findings
the job of scientists remains pivotal. It is incumbent on our community to be vigilant in guiding the policy process
Whether our conclusions are liked or not is irrelevant. As we massage the assumptions of our analysis to fit within today’s political and economic hegemony, so we do society a grave disservice – one for which the repercussions will be irreversible.
I agree with all of that. As for this claim:
"Only if the life cycle carbon emissions of CCS could be reduced by an order of magnitude from those postulated for an efficiently operating gas-CCS plant (typically around 80g CO2 per kWh24), could fossil fuels play any significant role post-2050."
I can't vouch for it but on the other hand I find it plausible. If true it only makes matters even worse.
Looking at the best case out of Paris, it's clear that the 2.0C boat has sailed and we missed it. So when do we fall back, and to what number? 2.5C? 3.0 C? At this point I have to say that zero net emissions prior to a 3 C commitment would look to me to be a good outcome. Welcome to the "good anthropocene", because the other ones are worse.
I do not buy into the "solving the problem would be ridiculously cheap / stimulate the economy / create jobs" framing at all. We have delayed far too long. This will be a huge hit no matter what.
Is sugarcoating it the best approach for moving the body politic? I guess that's the only argument I can see. "We are going to miss the 2 C target, but if we pretend it's possible that at least keeps our options open for staying under 4 C"? I don't think it is a legitimate role of science to make such a judgment.