Urgent action needed to reverse CO2 damage, Tesla CTO says

Published: 6 March 2018 - 1:10 p.m.
By: David Ndichu

Reversing current carbon dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere may already be beyond the present generation, Tesla co-founder and CTO has warned.

Jeffrey Brian Straubel told the Global Smart Energy Summit (GSES) meeting in Dubai that the world must change its “entire infrastructure” to reverse carbon dioxide levels in the environment and create a truly sustainable future. To do that, Straubel said the world’s historic over-reliance on fossil fuels must end.

 Straubel said although fossil fuels have brought huge benefits to society across all their different applications, they’ve also had a lot of unintended consequences. “The increased concentration of carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere is one of the most difficult global challenges facing the world today. We’ve seen a profound shift in the last several years, (with carbon dioxide levels) crossing the 400 parts per million in our atmosphere for the first time – now every day of the year is above that threshold. It’s very sobering to think that, almost certainly, we will not see the carbon dioxide levels fall below that - we will not turn this around in our lifetimes.

“With all the science, technology and engineering that we have, we can’t think of an easy way to turn this curve around. All the ways we use energy for transportation and moving people or goods around, it’s not something we can change overnight and we won’t change it overnight - but we have to change our entire infrastructure.”

The only solution, Straubel told the gathering of the region’s energy and power sector insiders, is a seismic shift in how society powers itself – from consumer electronics to state sponsored power generation programmes.

“All of the technology and all of the products we have come to rely on, they have to go through this transition to become sustainable. This has to happen over the next several decades to perhaps a century. We’re right in the middle of architecting how this is all going to look, everyone’s playing hard in creating what that whole new ecosystem can be,” added Straubel.

Citing how Tesla is supporting electronic vehicle adoption by opening new recharge stations every 12 hours, Straubel reiterated the need for increased public-private sector co-operation to drive home infrastructure development at a global level.

The inaugural Global Smart Energy Summit, which is running alongside the 43rd edition of Middle East Electricity (MEE) at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) until Thursday 8 March, brings together more than 110 speakers and energy leaders and is expected to attract over 700 attendees.

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