La necesidad de reevaluar la reducción de las emisiones

LA HAYA – Ya sea en las cumbres sobre el cambio climático celebradas por las Naciones Unidas o uno de los muchos foros sobre “crecimiento sustentable”, los recursos renovables y el aumento de la eficiencia energética suelen verse como la solución al calentamiento global. Hasta la industria del carbón ha adoptado criterios de eficiencia en su Comunicado de Varsovia, dado a conocer poco antes de la cumbre COP18 de la ONU en noviembre pasado. Sin embargo, si examinamos con atención el sistema energético global y, al mismo tiempo, comprendemos mejor el reto de las emisiones, veremos que es probable que los combustibles fósiles sigan predominando durante este siglo, lo que significa que bien puede ocurrir que la captura y el almacenamiento de carbono (CCS, por sus siglas en inglés) sea la tecnología esencial para mantener a raya el cambio climático.

La atención generalizada sobre la eficiencia y la energía renovable procede de la diseminación de la Identidad Kaya, desarrollada en 1993 por el economista japonés Yoichi Kaya, quien calculó las emisiones de CO2 al multiplicar la población total por el PIB per cápita, la eficiencia energética (uso de energía por unidad de PIB) y la intensidad del uso del carbono (CO2 por unidad de energía). Puesto que es muy poco práctico concitar apoyo para propuestas que se basen en el control del crecimiento demográfico o en limitar la riqueza individual, los análisis que hacen uso de la Identidad Kaya tienden a pasar por alto los primeros dos términos, haciendo así que la eficiencia energética y la intensidad del uso del carbono se conviertan en los determinantes más importantes del total de las emisiones.

Sin embargo, esta cómoda interpretación no corresponde a la realidad: el hecho es que la velocidad a la cual se emite CO2 al sistema oceánico-atmosférico es varios órdenes de magnitud mayor que la velocidad con la que regresa a su almacenamiento geológico mediante procesos climáticos y de sedimentación oceánica. En este contexto, lo que realmente importa es la cantidad acumulada de CO2 que se emite a lo largo del tiempo: así lo reconoce el Panel Intergubernamental sobre el Cambio Climático en su Quinto Informe de Evaluación, publicado recientemente.

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