IPCC Working Group 3: Climate Change Mitigation is Achievable and Affordable; Transportation a Tough Problem
Mitigating climate change is feasible without sacrificing economic development and is affordable, according to the summary report for policymakers just released by Working Group III of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen more than 70% between 1970 and 2004. Without additional emissions mitigation policies, the IPCC modeling projects a further increase of between 25% to 90% relative to 2000 levels by 2030. “If we continue to do what we are doing now, we are in deep trouble,” said Working Group III co-chair Ogunlade Davidson during the press conference releasing the summary.
This report for the first time has dealt with lifestyles and consumption patterns as an important means by which we can bring about mitigation of GHG emissions. You can look at technologies, you can look at policies, but what is an extremely powerful message in this report is the need for human society as a whole to start looking at changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns.
It is probably naive to believe that merely developing technologies in labs and workshops would be the answer unless there is a package of policies, unless there are market forces which in this case are represented by the price attached to carbon...we are not likely to get a major dissemination of technologies, no matter how meritorious and [desirable] they may be.— Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC Chair
Working Group III assessed a number of different scenarios across different sectors and regions, and with different levels of cost assigned to carbon. The scenario with the greatest reduction in greenhouse gases resulted in a reduction of global GDP of less than 3% in 2030, measured against the background of rising income levels over the next 25 year. That scenario would trim the average annual GDP growth rate by less than 0.125 percentage points in 2030.
|Potential emissions reductions in Gt CO2-eq/year from the different sectors in different regions, at three different carbon price ranges. Transportation is considered only globally because of aviation. Click to enlarge.|
WG III took a detailed look at seven sectors: energy supply, transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste.
Transportation remains a tough problem, and is the least responsive relatively to different levels of carbon pricing of any of the sectors examined.
There are multiple mitigation options in the transport sector, but their effect may be counteracted by growth in the sector. Mitigation options are faced with many barriers, such as consumer preferences and lack of policy frameworks.
Mitigation option in the transport sector discussed in the summary report include:
More fuel efficient vehicles. Improved vehicle efficiency measures, leading to fuel savings, in many cases have net benefits (at least for light-duty vehicles), but the market potential is much lower than the economic potential due to the influence of other consumer considerations, such as performance and size. There is not enough information to assess the mitigation potential for heavy-duty vehicles, according to the working group. Market forces alone, including rising fuel costs, are therefore not expected to lead to significant emission reductions.
First- and second-generation biofuels. Biofuels might play an important role in addressing GHG emissions in the transport sector, depending on their production pathway. Biofuels used as gasoline and diesel fuel additives/substitutes are projected to grow to 3% of total transport energy demand in the baseline in 2030. This could increase to about 5-10%, depending on future oil and carbon prices, improvements in vehicle efficiency and the success of technologies to utilise cellulose biomass.
Advanced electric and hybrid vehicles with more powerful and reliable batteries.
Modal shifts from road to rail and inland waterway shipping and from low-occupancy to high-occupancy passenger transportation, as well as land-use, urban planning and non-motorized transport offer opportunities for GHG mitigation, depending on local conditions and policies.
Medium term mitigation potential for CO2 emissions from the aviation sector can come from improved fuel efficiency, which can be achieved through a variety of means, including technology, operations and air traffic management. However, such improvements are expected to only partially offset the growth of aviation emissions. Total mitigation potential in the sector would also need to account for non-CO2 climate impacts of aviation emissions
The full WGIII Report, including 13 chapters and a Technical Summary, will be available online in its unedited version within 3 weeks.
Mitigation of Climate Change (Summary for Policymakers)