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15 Sep 2008 05:09:53

Coal needs to be curbed to avoid climate tipping point

Coal needs to be curbed to avoid climate tipping point
Curbing the use of or emissions of coal alone could help avert severe climate change, according to researchers.

Emissions from coal, which emits more when burned than gas or oil, should be cut out to avoid reaching the tipping point when carbon dioxide exceeds a concentration of 450 parts per million.

Scientists Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, published a study based on mathematical models in the Global Biogeochemical Cycles journal.

"We found that because coal is much more plentiful than oil or gas, reducing coal emissions is absolutely essential to avoid dangerous climate change," said Mr Karecha.

He added that even assuming high estimated reserves, oil and gas alone could not lead to carbon dioxide concentrations exceeding the 450 parts per million mark.

"The most important mitigation strategy we recommend - a phase-out of carbon dioxide emissions from coal within the next few decades - is feasible using current or near-term technologies," said Mr Karecha.

Greenpeace activists who scaled a chimney at the E.On Kingsnorth coal power plant, where the company proposes to build a new coal-burning facility, were cleared of causing criminal damage despite admitting to trying to shut it down.

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