Oxford professor argues that climate change can be solved by forcing the fossil fuel industry to implement CCS to bury their waste products.
Climate change can be solved by making all producers of carbon-based fuels accountable for the disposal of the carbon dioxide their fuels ultimately give off as a condition of remaining in business.
This was the proposal put forward last week by one of Britain's leading young climate scientist.
Dr Myles Allen, Head of Climate Dynamics Group at the University of Oxford, and an increasingly influential voice in the climate change debate, presented the most radical solution to keeping the planet sustainable in a debate that took place at the Sustainable Planet forum in Lyon.
For three days, presentation and debates were attended by 27,000 people, with thousands more following online.
According to Dr Allen, governments attempting to get millions of people to change their behaviour through taxes and incentives were doomed to fail.
Instead, the responsibility for the problem should be taken, not by governments, but by the carbon producers themselves, in disposing of their waste products.
As long as carbon dioxide is buried or disposed of by the fossil fuel industry the climate change problem can be controllable.
Disposing of carbon dioxide by burying it in the ground, known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), is now regarded as essential for tackling climate change, yet the technology is in its infancy.
Britain is one of the countries leading its development, with four experimental CCS-fitted coal-fired power stations now being planned by the Government, but it may be a decade before it is implemented, and two of those trials could be the victim of government cuts.
Dr Allen argued that if the big oil companies and other fossil fuel producers were forced themselves to implement CCS – or go out of business – its adaptation would be much quicker and much more widespread, and far more efficient than the current government policy of trying to deal with carbon emissions from millions of consumers.
Dr Allen’s proposal is based on how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere can absorb before global warming reaches the figure of two degrees above the pre-industrial revolution level, which is regarded as the danger level for human society.
World temperatures have already risen to nearly one degree above the pre-industrial revolution level, and this rise has been produced by all the fossil fuels which have been burned since then, which has been estimated at about 500 billion tonnes. He said we can afford to burn another half-trillion tonnes of carbon before the extra degree of warming is reached.
But, we need to stop using fossil fuels completely by the time we reach the trillionth tonne.
Therefore, as long as carbon dioxide is buried the climate change problem can be controllable, and this is the time frame the fossil fuel industry has to take care of carbon emissions.
The key point is not to start using any of the remaining four trillion tones of fossil fuels which thought to constitute the world's reserves.
However, Dr Allen proposal was not well-received by all the attendants at the Sustainable Planet Forum.
Mme Voynet said she was not comfortable with the idea of putting climate change away from governments and handing it over to the oil companies.
She said it would be 'demobilising' and it would make millions of people feel they had no personal responsibility for the fate of the planet, if responsibility had been handed over to industry.