WASHINGTON - May 4 - The pollution reductions needed
to stave off the worst effects of global warming can be achieved—if governments
act now, according to a major consensus report released today by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is a United
Nations body charged with assessing the scientific record on global warming.
emission reductions lead to investments that lock in more emission-intensive
infrastructure and development pathways. This significantly constrains
the opportunities to achieve lower [greenhouse gas] stabilization levels and
increases the risk of more severe climate impacts,” the report states.
report provides a roadmap on how to avoid the worst effects of global warming,
but we have to start moving right now,” said Ben Dunham, Staff Attorney for the
U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “The sooner we act, the sooner we
start improving energy security, creating jobs, and protecting future
generations from the worst effects of global warming,” he added.
report finds that already available energy efficiency and renewable energy
technologies could substantially reduce global warming pollution, while
improving energy security, reducing air pollution, and creating jobs.
Taken together with the second volume of the IPCC’s report, released in April,
it also finds that it is cheaper to prevent dangerous global warming than to
deal with its consequences.
released today, entitled “Mitigation of Climate Change,” is the Summary for
Policymakers of the third volume of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment
findings include the following:
- * Pollution Will Skyrocket
Unless Governments Act: Global emissions are projected to rise by 25-90%
over 2000 levels by 2030, unless policies are adopted to reduce emissions.
- * Still Possible to Avoid
Dangerous Global Warming: To prevent dangerous global warming (as documented in
the second volume of the IPCC’s report), global emissions would need to
peak no later than 2015 and then decline by as much as 50% by 2050,
thereby limiting the global average temperature increase to about 2°C over
pre-industrial levels (which is equivalent to 3.6°F, or about 2°F over
today’s levels). This level of reduction “can be achieved by
deployment of a portfolio of technologies that are currently available
today and those that are expected to be commercialized in coming decades.”
While not specified in today's release, the U.S. must reduce its emissions
by at least 80% by 2050 to meet the global target of about 50% reductions,
given our greater contribution to the problem.
- * Action Cheaper than Inaction: Stabilizing greenhouse
gas concentrations at relatively safe levels will cost less than 3% of
expected economic growth by 2030 (less than 0.12% per year). Costs
would be lower if carbon permits are auctioned and the revenue is invested
in energy efficiency and the development of new, clean energy
technologies. The former chief economist of the World Bank, Sir
Nicholas Stern, has put the price of unmitigated warming at as high as 20%
of global GDP by 2100.
- * Vast Potential for Energy
Energy efficiency in vehicles and buildings could significantly reduce
global warming emissions “with net economic benefit” and with “large
co-benefits,” but “many barriers exist against tapping this potential.”
The co-benefits include improved energy security, job creation, lower
costs, and reduced air pollution.
- * Vast Potential for Renewable
costs relative to other supply options, renewable electricity…can have a
30-35% share of the total electricity supply in 2030….” “Renewable
energy generally has a positive effect on energy security, employment, and
on air quality.”
- * Reducing Global Warming
Pollution Can Improve Health: “[N]ear-term health co-benefits from reduced air
pollution as a result of actions to reduce [greenhouse gas] emissions can
be substantial and may offset a substantial fraction of mitigation
- * Voluntary Action Ineffective: “The majority
of [voluntary] agreements has not achieved significant emissions reductions
beyond business as usual.”
are two bills in Congress that follow the prescriptions in this report – namely
the Safe Climate Act in the House and the Global Warming Pollution Reduction
Act in the Senate,” added Dunham.
“These bills would reduce U.S.
global warming pollution by 80% by 2050 by requiring improvements in energy
efficiency and increased use of renewable energy like wind and solar power,” he
synthesis of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report is due out later this
year. The full Fourth Assessment Report includes input from more than
2,500 experts worldwide.
previous two volumes of the IPCC report, released earlier this year, concluded that (1) global warming is “unequivocal;” (2)
burning fossil fuels and other human activities are responsible for most
of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th
century; (3) the impacts are already evident
worldwide and will worsen significantly, with increasing droughts, floods,
heat waves, water stress, forest fires, and coastal flooding in store for the
U.S.; but that (4) “many impacts can be avoided, reduced, or delayed” by
quickly and substantially reducing global warming pollution.
was established by the United Nations Environmental Program and the World
Meteorological Organization in 1988 with a mandate to assess the state of knowledge
on global warming on a “comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis”
and to generate documents that reflect a consensus among those involved.
In 1990, 1995, and 2001, the IPCC issued its prior assessments.
also noted that the report is inherently conservative because it reflects the
consensus of hundreds of parties, including industry groups and governments opposed
to taking action to reduce global warming pollution.
U.S. PIRG is the federation of state
Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan
public interest advocacy organizations.