The Urgency of Controlling Climate Change and How to Do It - Findings from the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report

February 26, 2008 - 12:00pm

The main findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment report, published last year, can be summarized as follows: The climate is changing Humans are responsible for most of it The climate is going to change further, with global average temperatures 1.1 -6.4 degrees Celsius above 1990, depending on future development of population and the economy Sea level rise under warming is inevitable. Thermal expansion would continue for many centuries after GHG concentrations have stabilised, for any of the stabilisation levels assessed, causing an eventual sea level rise much larger than projected for the 21st century. The eventual contributions from Greenland ice sheet loss could be several meters, and larger than from thermal expansion, should warming in excess of 1.9 to 4.6°C above pre-industrial be sustained over many centuries. The risks associated with warming are more serious than estimated in earlier IPCC reports. There is high confidence that neither adaptation nor mitigation alone can avoid all climate change impacts; however, they can complement each other and together can significantly reduce the risks of climate change. Costs are relatively small, when policy is optimal Time to avoid high concentration levels is running out: CO2 emissions need to peak within abut 10 years to stay below 2 degrees C Costs of taking aggressive action are of the same order of magnitude as costs of doing nothing ∑ There are good opportunities to integrate climate change policies into policies for achieving sustainable development. The potential of different mitigation technologies (up to a cost level of 100$/ton CO2eq avoided) is enough to bring emission levels by 2030 back to 2000 levels or even go below. All sectors of the economy can contribute. Energy efficiency is one of the most cost effective measures: many energy efficiency investments are profitable. The choice of policies to capture the emission reduction potential is crucial. On the one hand a price of carbon is essential to create the incentives for business and individuals to invest in emission reduction. On the other hand additional regulatory action is important in areas where price signals alone are not effective. For more information about this seminar, please contact: Jayant Sathaye(510) 486-5958

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