Advances in renewable and energy-
combined with the willingness of governments to experiment with
approaches to energy markets, can significantly cut greenhouse
little cost, according to a new analysis released Monday by an
panel of hundreds of scientists.
The 800-page report, released in Accra, Ghana during an
on how to mitigate global warming, says that efforts to stem heat-
greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of oil, gas and
coal can result
in additional benefits including less air pollution, forest
The report is the third in a series of three large documents by
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and represents almost
of work by about 400 governmental and non-government experts.
While the report stresses that there is no single path to reducing
the panel says that if currently available technological
renewable energy and energy efficiency are promoted by
dioxide emissions could be significantly reduced within the next
Significant technological advances in renewable energy, such as
and fuel efficient hybrid engine cars, have progressed faster than
In various mitigation scenarios studied by the panel, no single
option provides all of the emissions reductions needed. A
incentives and technologies is the most effective, says the
According to another report released in Accra last week by the
Environment Programme (UNEP), geothermal, small-scale hydro-power,
biomass, and wind technologies have grown proportionally faster
than any other
electricity supply technology.
The wind energy industry, for example, has grown in just two
decades from a
producer of small machines to a modern, multi-billion dollar
bulk, grid-connected power, says Klaus Toepfer, executive director
Since the 1990s the cost of wind generated electricity has dropped
which makes wind power competitive with most fossil fuel
''It is increasingly true,'' says Toepfer, ''that there are no
financial or economic reasons why the nations of the world cannot
benefits of a high level of energy services and a better
''It is simply a question of making the right choices,'' he says.
One of the right choices, according to the report by the
scientific panel, is
to remove government subsidies for fossil fuels and instead devote
renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The report also says the use of various market mechanisms, such as
trading permits, could reduce the net economic cost of meeting
reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The international treaty, named after the Japanese city where it
was drawn up
in 1997, requires industrialised nations to cut their greenhouse
by 2012 to five percent below 1990 levels.
While more than 100 countries have signed the agreement, not one
nation has ratified the treaty.
The report says the most effective way a country could meet its
obligations would be to develop several policy instruments,
or non-tradable emission permits, energy mix requirements, energy
standards, support for research and development, and the
redirection of energy
''Market-based instruments may be cost effective in many cases,
where capacity to administer them is developed,'' says the report
report also says the transfer of technologies between countries
will ''widen the choice of options at the regional level and
and learning will lower the costs of their adoption''.
Preserving forests, which store carbon dioxide, is another way
mitigate global warming, says the report. Promoting agricultural
emit less carbon from the soil, such as no-till farming, is also a
policy makers can utilise to foster reductions in greenhouse
gases, it says.
The report says some government proposals to implement a carbon
tax can have
negative income effects on low-income groups ''unless the tax
directly or indirectly to compensate such effect''.
Some mitigation actions may yield extensive benefits in areas
climate change, says the panel's report.
''For example, they may reduce health problems; increase
negative environmental impacts (like air pollution); protect and
forests, soils and watersheds; reduce those subsidies and taxes
greenhouse gas emissions; and induce technological change ...
wide goals of sustainable development,'' says the summary.
The first report by the scientific panel, issued in January,
carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases is causing
rise of the Earth's air surface temperature.
The panel predicted that the average surface air temperature of
rise 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 relative to 1990.
level, worldwide is projected by models to rise 0.09 to 0.88
metres by 2100.
The panel's second report warned that global warming is already
impacting ecosystems worldwide and will further widen the gap
industrialised nations and poor developing countries which are
vulnerable to extreme weather events.
Observational evidence indicates, said the panel, that regional
climate, particularly increases in temperature, are currently
to shrink, permafrost to thaw and wildlife behaviour to change.
Copyright 2001 IPS