April 17, 2014

IPCC: It won't cost much to save the planet

IPCC finds that ambitious climate actions will only cost 0.06% per year! 

The IPCC adopted their Working Group III report focused on emission reductions on April 12, 2014. The report consists of 16 chapters with more than 2,000 pages. It was written by 235 authors from 58 countries and reviewed externally by 900 experts. They also released the 33-page Summary for Policymakers (SPM) that was approved by all 193 countries. 

This report has two very important new offerings.
The 2-degree limit
For the first time, a detailed analysis was performed of how the 2-degree limit can be kept, based on over 1,200 future projections (scenarios) by a variety of different energy-economy computer models. The analysis is not just about the 2-degree guardrail in the strict sense but evaluates the entire space between 1.5 degrees Celsius, a limit demanded by small island states, and a 4-degree world. The scenarios show a variety of pathways, characterized by different costs, risks and co-benefits. The result is a table with about 60 entries that translates the requirements for limiting global warming to below 2-degrees into concrete numbers for cumulative emissions and emission reductions required by 2050 and 2100. This is accompanied by a detailed table showing the costs for these future pathways.


The IPCC represents the costs as consumption losses as compared to a hypothetical 'business-as-usual' case. The table does not only show the median of all scenarios, but also the spread among the models. It turns out that the costs appear to be moderate in the medium-term until 2030 and 2050. 

Translated into reduction of growth rate, these numbers are actually quite low. Ambitious climate protection would cost only 0.06 percentage points of growth each year. This means that instead of a growth rate of about 2% per year, we would see a growth rate of 1.94% per year. Thus economic growth would merely continue at a slightly slower pace. [Real Climate]
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