Carbon Law – A Moore’s Law Approach


Jacquline Mullin

With the clock ticking down to 2050, the UN’s Paris Agreement deadline for eliminating all fossil fuel emissions, researchers are actively working to develop ways to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. One such idea uses Moore’s Law as it’s foundation for suggesting that halving emissions every decade will ensure a complete elimination of humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels in advance of the deadline.

Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, developed Moore’s Law in 1965. His theory was based on his observations that the power of computers grew at a consistent pace, doubling approximately every two years. As the speed of computers increased, so too did their efficiency while the cost of their production decreased. The trend suggested long-term exponential growth of the transistors used to power computers, and has proven to be an accurate prediction.

Using the premise of exponential growth as explained in Moore’s Law, researchers put forward a type of road map that employs a “carbon law”, which plots a course to carbon neutrality by initiating major change within the global energy sector.

The rate of coordinated change inherent in the “carbon law” stays consistent over the course of time. Changes imposed at the start, such as the elimination of coal as an energy source and the introduction of enduring methods for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere work together to achieve the desired results.

Johan Rockström is director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University and lead author of the study. He explained that the movement towards a “carbon law” and road map has already begun. “We are already at the start of this trajectory. In the last decade, the share of renewables in the energy sector has doubled every 5.5 years. If doubling continues at this pace fossil fuels will exit the energy sector well before 2050.”

The concept of exponential growth achieved through a road map and “carbon law” provides a tangible approach to reducing carbon emissions. People like Rockström believe this trajectory will enable the global community to work towards a goal of keeping the Earth’s temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures while also achieving carbon neutrality.