Government support and partnerships with the private sector for collaborative research and development in carbon mitigation and clean energy technologies must proceed at an accelerated pace.
Emerging technology and as-yet-unknown technological breakthroughs have the potential to significantly reduce GHG emissions if they can be developed at commercial scale. At the same time, we should realize there is no "silver bullet," and climate change benefits will come from multiple solutions that will be developed over time. Having the right policies in place that encourage capital investment in technology and infrastructure will help.
Technology can create enhanced energy efficiency across a wide range of activities. Buildings, for example, directly and indirectly generate substantial emissions. New advances in design and construction, such as ventilated double-skin facades, glass coatings and advanced batteries that can store solar power, can significantly reduce power demand and lower CO2 emissions.
Natural gas is approximately half as CO2 intensive as coal per unit of electricity generated. New technology can enable the efficient production and transportation of natural gas supplies for power generation as well as the development of ultraclean diesel fuel from natural gas.
Biofuels and Renewables
Technology is advancing across a wide range of renewable energy sources—biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal and others. Cellulosic conversion technology, for example, is currently under development to enable a wide variety of agricultural and forest waste to be manufactured into low-carbon transportation fuels.
Nuclear power is another option in the energy portfolio and does not emit carbons. Significant strides have been made in safely operating nuclear plants and improvements need to continue. We also need to continue developing ways to store nuclear waste.
Carbon Capture and Storage
CO2 resulting from the production and combustion of fossil fuels can be captured and stored with current technologies, but at great costs. To capture a significant amount of the world's CO2 emissions, particularly from coal-fired power plants, will require new, large-scale infrastructure. Initiatives are under way to advance this technology. Further reducing costs and assessing the commercial scale of this technology is critical.