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New UN Climate Mitigation Report Leaves No Room to Hide

From Clean Biz Asia, Published 14 April 2014

After six years of intensive work reviewing all available science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its 2014 assessment on measures to mitigate climate change. Among its main findings is that the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have grown more quickly during the last decade that in each of the previous three decades.

The study, drawing on work by more than 1,000 experts, said a radical shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy such as wind, solar or nuclear power would shave only about 0.06 of a percentage point a year off world economic growth.

"It does not cost the world to save the planet," Ottmar Edenhofer, a German scientist who is co-chair of a meeting of the IPCC’s Working Group III, told a news conference in Berlin.

The new report, entitled Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change , is the third of three Working Group reports, which, along with a Synthesis Report due in October 2014, constitute the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on climate change. It is meant as the main scientific guide for nations working on a UN climate change deal to be agreed in late 2015 to rein in GHGs that have hit repeated highs this century, led by China's industrial growth.

"We don't have the luxury of time," Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, told Reuters , saying costs would rise sharply if strong action was delayed to 2030. "We will have to move quickly and with an unprecedented level of international cooperation."

Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. The contribution of population growth between 2000 and 2010 remained roughly identical to the previous three decades, while the contribution of economic growth has risen sharply.

Scenarios show that to have a likely chance of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius, means lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 per cent compared with 2010 by mid-century, and to near-zero by the end of this century.

The panel analyzed the causes for this increase in the main economic sectors: energy, transport, construction, and building, industry, land use, agriculture and forestry among others.

CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78 per cent of the total GHG emission increase from 1970 to 2010, with a similar percentage contribution for the period 2000–2010.

About half of cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2010 have occurred in 23 the last 40 years. Annual anthropogenic GHG emissions have increased between 2000 and 2010, with this increase arising directly from energy supply (47 per cent), industry (30 per cent), transport (11 per cent) and buildings (3 per cent). Accounting for indirect emissions raises the contributions of the buildings and industry sectors.

The IPCC panel analyzed different scenarios for stabilizing or reducing emissions in each of these sectors and made a number of recommendations to policy makers on this regard. It concluded that without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, emissions growth is expected to persist, driven by growth in global population and economic activities.

IPCC scenarios showed world emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, would need to peak soon and tumble by between 40 and 70 percent from 2010 levels by 2050, and then to almost zero by 2100, to keep rises below 2C.

The IPCC said that natural gas, which emits fewer greenhouse gases than coal, could get a boost until about 2050.

"Ambitious mitigation may even require removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere," the IPCC said. Delay in acting to cut emissions until 2030 would force far greater use of such technologies, a 33-page summary for policymakers said.

Baseline scenarios, those without additional mitigation, result in global mean surface temperature increases in 2100 from 3.7 to 4.8°C compared to preā€industrial levels (median values; the range is 2.5°C to 7.8°C when including climate uncertainty).

For more information regarding the 2014 IPCC Report, please refer to the following links below:

Climate Change is a Stakeholder’s Business
Environmental Risk Management on Climate Change

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