IPCC: Saving the planet won’t cost the world

Climate action| Global transition

The take away point at today’s IPCC press conference is this: it doesn’t cost the world to save the planet. The Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) for the IPCC’s fifth assessment report (AR5) for Working Group (WG) III is concerned with mitigation, or how we best address the climate crisis.The report looks in depth at different technologies available, costs and benefits and pathways towards a low-carbon future. The infographic shown here demonstrates how little it would cost to mitigate climate change – not even taking into account the many co-benefits of reducing emissions for human health and biodiversity.

You can see some NGO reactions in CAN International’s press release

What are some of the key findings of the Working Group III report?

  • Climate change is a global problem. Addressing it requires international cooperation together with effective local, national, and regional policies.
  • The regional patterns of GHG emissions are shifting in line with changes in the world economy, though per-capita emissions are still markedly lower in most developing countries.
  • Keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees C by 2100 is definitely still possible, but will require large scale changes in the global energy mix plus deep cuts in emissions soon.
  •  To stay below 2 degrees C, by 2050 the share of zero and low carbon energy will need to almost quadruple, while global GHG emissions will have to be reduced by 40-70% (compared to 2010).
  • The stabilization of GHG concentrations at low levels requires the “long-term phase-out of unabated fossil fuel conversion technologies” and CO2 emissions declining toward zero. 
  • Policies such as carbon taxes have helped to decouple carbon emissions from GDP in some countries.
  • The transformation to a low-carbon economy will require new patterns of investment, and will result in the creation of a significant amount of new jobs. Reduction of subsidies to fossil fuels can achieve significant emission cuts at no or low social cost.
  • Taking the carbon out of electricity generation is a key component of mitigation, and this will require rapidly reducing coal power generation.Happily, the cost of renewables is falling and their availability is spreading.

The recorded press conference of today’s Working Group III SPM launch can be viewed here. The SPM is now available here: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/

This represents the third installment of AR5; the first two installments covered climate science and impacts. The synthesis report, which brings all the findings together, will be released in October in Copenhagen.