Thursday, May 3, 2007

IPCC Finishes Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has completed negotiations over the content of its third report about global warming, to be released on Friday, according to the New York Times. This report includes recommendations on how goverments should respond to a warming climate.
The world’s established and emerging powers will need to divert substantially from today’s main energy sources within a few decades to limit centuries of rising temperatures and seas driven by the buildup of heat-trapping emissions in the air, the top body studying climate change is poised to conclude.
In an all-night session capping four days of talks, economists, scientists, and government officials from more than 100 countries agreed in Bangkok early on Friday local time on most sections of a report outlining ways to limit such emissions, led by carbon dioxide, an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal and oil.
The near-final report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said prompt slowing of emissions could set the stage later in the century for stabilization of the concentration of carbon dioxide, which, at 380 parts per million now, has risen more than a third since the start of the industrial revolution and could easily double from the pre-industrial level within decades.
Dennis Tirpak, a lead author and former director of the
Environmental Protection Agency’s climate division, declined to discuss details while the report was still in flux, but said the main message was clear: greenhouse gas emissions have soared since 1970 and could nearly double by 2030 if nothing is done.
Carbon dioxide is particularly important not only because so much is produced each year - about 25 billion tons - but because much of it persists in the atmosphere, building like unpaid credit card debt.
To stop the rise, the report’s authors said, countries would need to expand adoption of existing policies that can cut emissions - like a fuel tax or the binding limits set by the Kyoto Protocol - while also boosting research seeking new large-scale energy options. This work would include pushing for advances in solar and nuclear power.
According to several authors, the near-final report estimates that to bring global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to levels measured in 2000 would require a cost on released carbon dioxide of $50 to $100 a ton, a cost roughly on a par – in terms of fossil fuel prices – of an additional 25 to 50 cents for a gallon of gasoline.
The report projects that this shift might cause a small blunting of global economic activity, resulting in an overall reduction of perhaps one tenth of a percentage point per year through 2100 in the world’s total economic activity, authors said.
Some of the experts and government officials involved in the final discussions said in interviews and email messages that the costs could be substantially greater than that, adding that the report used very rosy assumptions.
But a variety of participants, including some from the United States government, said in interviews that it was hard to argue against such an investment given the potential costs of inaction.
This is the third report this year from the climate panel, which was formed under the auspices of the
United Nations in 1988 to brief nations periodically on risks from human and natural changes in climate and options for limiting dangers.
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