Friday, May 4, 2007

The Price is Right, Global Warming Edition

We can fight global warming at a surprisingly affordable price, according to the third report of the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change. Here is the rundown as it appeared in Time Magazine:
Delegates from 120 countries approved the first roadmap for stemming greenhouse gas emissions Friday, laying out what they said was an affordable arsenal of anti-warming measures that must be rushed into place to avert a disastrous spike in global temperatures.
But a U.S. official raised concern about the economic costs.
The report, a summary of a study by a U.N. network of 2,000 scientists, said the world has to make significant cuts in gas emissions through increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles, shifting from fossil fuels to renewable fuels, and reforming both the forestry and farming sectors. The document made clear that nations have the technology and money to decisively act in time to avoid a sharp rise in temperatures that scientists say would wipe out species, raise ocean levels, wreak economic havoc and trigger droughts in some places and flooding in others.
Under the most stringent scenario, the report said the world must stabilize the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 2015 — eight years from now — at 445 parts per million to keep global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees over preindustrial levels.
Delegates said the approval of the report should conclusively debunk arguments by skeptics that combatting global warming was too costly, that it would stifle development in poorer countries, or that the temperature rise had gone too far to change. "If we continue doing what we are doing now, we are in deep trouble," said Ogunlade Davidson, the co-chair of group responsible for finalizing the report this week.
Delegates hailed the policy statement as a key advance toward battling global warming and setting the stage for an even stronger international agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse emissions when it expires in 2012.
"It's stunning in its brilliance and relevance," Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the group responsible for the report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said of the study. "It's a remarkable step forward."
"Clearly, the signs that the IPCC assess will have a direct and profound influence on the discussion that take place and the direction toward (a post-Kyoto) agreement," he said.
The United States was pleased that the report "highlights the importance of a portfolio of clean energy technologies consistent with our approach," said the head of the U.S. delegation, Harlan Watson.
But James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, raised concerns about reaching the lowest emission targets proposed in the report, saying "it would cause a global recession. Our goal is reducing emissions and growing the economy."
Coming out of the meeting, delegates said science appeared to have trumped politics — especially opposition from booming China, which wanted language inserted allowing for a greater buildup of greenhouse gases in the environment before action would be taken.
Beijing, the second-largest emitter after the United States, and its supporters had argued that moves to make deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions risked stifling its spectacular economic growth, delegates said. But the final report included mention of a stringent emission target from an earlier draft.
Zhou Dadi, a Chinese author in the report and a researcher at the country's top planning agency, denied China had "opposed" the key findings and was only working to improve the text. "The Chinese government was constructive and was contributing to making the report reflect the science," Zhou said. "We are not threatened by the report."

IREJN is Connecticut's Interfaith Power and Light. Visit us at

No comments: