The Current

Decarbonization: the new sell to solve climate change

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday, Canada has joined the G7 nations in a pledge to "decarbonize" completely, before this century's over. Swearing off fossil fuels. Some say it's the only way out of our climate change jam, but it's not the easiest sell to a carbon-based energy superpower.
Decarbonization is the new word to watch. There's a growing global consensus that getting off fossil fuels is both inevitable and the only way to save the world from catastrophic warming. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

A decarbonized world is by now irreversible, irrefutable and we are going to do it, because frankly we don't have any other option.- Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change

Decarbonization is a word you're likely going to be hearing a lot more of... in the years and decades to come. It  means cutting out the carbon -- on a massive scale: Doing away with fossil fuels and embracing renewable energy sources, in order to cut planet-warming emissions to a net zero.

And "decarbonization" isn't just a word Christiana Figueres is using these days. A growing chorus of scientific experts, world leaders, and even World Bank officials agree, decarbonization is the only way to keep global warming to an internationally agreed limit of 2 degrees Celsius.

"Decarbonization" was definitely a buzzword as the G7 Summit wrapped yesterday in Germany with world leaders -- including Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- setting a goal of a fossil-fuel free world before the end of the century. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had hoped to convince her counterparts to agree to a low-carbon economy by 2050, but Canada and Japan reportedly resisted. In the end, the G7 pledged to go carbon-free by 2100.

Marianne Fay is the World Bank Group Chief Economist for Climate Change and a lead author on its recent report called "Decarbonizing Development: Three Steps to a Low Carbon Future". She was in Washington, DC.

The word decarbonization isn't likely to be warmly embraced in Alberta's oil patch. However, Bryson Brown says a transition away from fossil fuels doesn't have to be as painful for the province -- or the country -- as some people might think.             

Bryson Brown is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta. 

We did contact the Prime Minister's Office to see if someone from the government was able to talk about this but no one was available. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Lara O'Brien.