Aug 302010
Yttrium, a rare earth element
Yttrium, a rare earth element
Climate change and the secure supply of energy are among the biggest challenges of the twenty-first century. The problem is immense: While global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still on the rise, they will have to be halved by the middle of this century in order to prevent the most dangerous effects of global warming. And while energy-related emissions are already responsible for the largest share of GHG emissions, global energy demand is estimated to rise by 50 percent or more between now and 2030.

Climate change and energy security can be seen as Siamese twins insofar as they can only be sustained with concern for one another: 80 percent of global energy supply is produced from fossil fuels which, in the United States, Europe, Japan and other important U.S. ally countries, are increasingly imported and therefore are at the core of their increasing energy dependence. The burning of fossil fuels also emits CO2, and energy-related CO2 emissions are responsible for about 60 percent of man-made climate change.

The security impacts of climate change and our dependence of fossil fuels have been much debated. It is in the national interest of the United States to address both issues vigorously. There has been little academic and political discussion, however, about the security impacts of a transition of our economy to one that is built on a low-carbon energy foundation. What are the foreseeable material input demands and what human capacities are needed for such a transition? This paper addresses these questions under a particular scenario in which the United States commits to GHG reductions as party to an international climate change agreement.

 [Please find the full version of this draft policy paper here. Comments are highly appreciated]

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