Director’s Special Colloquium
Decarbonization Within Reach
July 1, 2021
10am – 11:30am
For leaders across the globe determined to combat climate change, mitigation via decarbonization is key. In the United States, the desired end state has been declared — net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050 — but the path forward is still being mapped. Science, technology, policy, data, and other research realms will all contribute to a multifaceted approach that increases zero-carbon energy sources, reduces energy use, and advances carbon dioxide removal (including carbon capture and sequestration, natural CO2 sinks, and direct carbon air capture). This event celebrating Argonne’s 75th anniversary will explore how the potential of teamwork gives us reason to be optimistic about meeting our ambitious decarbonization goals.
Energy and Climate: The Defining Issue of the 21st Century
Jay Precourt Provostial Chair Professor and
Depts. of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science and Engineering (courtesy)
Department of Photon Science, SLAC
Abstract: The 20th Century was marked by a set of remarkable innovations that has brought billions of people out of poverty, has led to remarkable improvements in our quality of life, and has supported a four-fold increase in global population and seven-fold increase in GDP per capita. The fundamental infrastructure to enable these historic changes was energy, which form the basis for any modern economy.
The use of fossil fuels and the associated greenhouse gas emissions and global warming has made this 20th century approach unsustainable. To keep the global average temperature rise below 2oC, the world has to reach net-zero emissions within this century. The U.S. aspiration is to achieve so by 2050, for which a carbon-free electricity grid by 2035 is considered essential. Because energy is so fundamental to any economy, such dramatic changes will affect the whole economy, not just the energy sector, and will likely determine the course of the 21st century. Achieving these goals will require deep understanding of the connections and levers between science, technology, economics, policy, markets, business, and finance to foster innovations at unprecedented speed and scale, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
This talk will offer a glimpse of the road ahead of us, which will require a balance between deployment of current, proven low-carbon technologies and research and development for breakthroughs needed for net-zero emissions. It will also highlight the need for new infrastructure to leverage these low-carbon technologies and, most importantly, deliver clean energy services to people and communities, with equity and social justice in mind.
The Promise of Collaboration
Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences & Engineering
Argonne National Laboratory