The “Stabilization Wedges” concept of co-Directors Steve Pacala and Rob Socolow has reached a wide variety of audiences over the past 2 years. A “stabilization wedge” represents a strategy that grows from no activity now to preventing 1 billion tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere per year in 2050. Pacala and Socolow have identified 15 strategies in the areas of energy efficiency, fuel switching, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and natural sinks that have the capacity to reduce carbon emissions by 1 “wedge” in the next 50 years. They estimate that, with considerable uncertainty, approximately seven wedges represent the difference between a 2050 future without carbon policy (14 GtC/y) and one with policy designed to achieve stabilization below doubling (7 GtC/y, the same emission rate as at present).
The wedges concept was first outlined in the August 13 edition of Science and was prominently highlighted in John Browne’s article in the July-August 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs. Co-Director Robert Socolow has also presented the wedges concept at influential meetings around the world, including the NETL 3rd Annual Conference on Carbon Capture & Sequestration (the primary U.S. forum on CCS), the 7th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies, and at the Tenth Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Wedges” have also become common parlance within the U.S. Department of Energy and BP, as well as in the wider CCS community, for discussions of carbon mitigation.
The wedges concept has also captured the imagination of mainstream media. Since the Science article appeared, descriptions of the wedges have appeared in a number of publications including The New Yorker, The Economist, Business Week, and Fortune magazines as well as numerous newspaper articles.
In addition, CMI is spreading the wedge concept to new audiences via the “Wedge Game” originally developed for the 2004 CMI Annual Meeting. Through Roberta Hotinski’s collaboration with Sarah Wade of AJW, Inc., BP, and The Climate Group, over 300 people have participated in “wedge workshops” – variations of the board game have now been played by NGO, government, and industry participants in Washington, D.C.; by climate conference participants in Melbourne, Australia; by junior CCS researchers as part of a course at Los Alamos, by high school students at a DOE summer camp; and as a side event to COP 11 in Montreal. Game materials are now available on the CMI website, and Hotinski has worked with Richard Tandoh and Arif Mustafa of BP in collaboration with Playerthree, a London-based game production company, to develop a web-based version of the game that will become available to the public this year.