Monday, May 7, 2007

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

That's the sound of the time left to act decisively to avert the worst effects of climate change ticking away, according to the latest report of the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change., a website that bills itself as a "marketplace for CO2 technology, reports these key points from the report:

The world must stabilize the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere at 445 parts per million (ppm) by 2015 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2° C over pre-industrial levels. To achieve the lowest targets would cost less than 3% of the global gross domestic product by 2030, or 0.1% per year. If nothing is done, however, the costs of escalating climate change will be much higher than these projected costs of climate protection. These are major findings from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued on 4 May. It clearly invalidates arguments from policymakers that a full-scale attack on climate change is too costly and would cripple economies worldwide.

More specifically, the report, based on a study by more than 2,000 scientists, demands the use of already existing technologies to make cars, buildings and appliances far more efficient. For the building sector, the UN panel explicitly mentions the use of alternative refrigeration fluids as a key policy to reduce GHG emissions. Discouraging older technologies, setting mandatory fuel economy standards worldwide, and introducing tax penalties for emitting GHG would be vital for policymakers if the worst environmental and related financial consequences are to be avoided.
Results In more details, the IPCC report found the following:
GHG emissions increased 70% from 1970 to 2004, and are projected to increase 25-90% by 2030 if current emissions trends continue and no action is taken.

Even an increase to 2° C – the lowest target to be achieved - could lead to water shortages for 2 billion people by 2050, and threaten extinction for 20-30% of all species.
Both bottom-up and top-down studies indicate that there is substantial economic potential for the mitigation of global GHG emissions over the coming decades. Technology transfer, international cooperation, tax credits and minimum energy efficiency requirements are preferred options.Reactions"We're looking for an energy revolution that's as comprehensive as the one that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. None of us can predict the future," but "it may not be impossible to make that kind of revolution again," said Dr. Moomaw, a lead author of the report."The time for making excuses is over... We now have the technologies and enough known policy measures that we know work. [...] Now the ball is in the court of governments and politicians," added Adil Najam, another lead author and associate professor at Tufts University's Fletcher School.

Next steps
The results from the IPCC report are expected to play a major role at the next G8 meeting next month, and in shaping the next round of talks seeking new binding emissions restrictions for the post-Kyoto era after 2012.

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