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IPCC Working Group 3: Climate Change Mitigation is Achievable and Affordable; Transportation a Tough Problem

Stabilization scenarios and their relationship to equilibrium global mean temperature change above pre-industrial, using (i) “best estimate” climate sensitivity of 3°C (black line in middle of shaded area), (ii) upper bound of likely range of climate sensitivity of 4.5°C (red line at top of shaded area) (iii) lower bound of likely range of climate sensitivity of 2°C (blue line at bottom of shaded area). Click to enlarge.

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.




It is not only affordable, it is profitable. Imagine all the new technology jobs in PHEVs, CNG and other areas that will be created if we just get it in gear.
I do not buy the idea that if China and India are not going to do anything then neither are we. We can lead the way and would have with a different administration starting in 2001.


This relentless growth scenario doesn't take into account economic slowdown due to factors such as oil depletion and water shortages. Unfortunately the message that the problem is solvable will be used by conservative governments to justify several more years of inaction. It may turn out the assumptions in the report become quickly outdated.


"the message that the problem is solvable will be used by conservative governments to justify... inaction"

One problem is still the degree of uncertainty in the forecasts. Even in their best case scenario of reduction, if you consider the upper bound of the likely temperature range, things aren't looking so good. Whereas if you just look at the lower bound of the likely range, you might conclude that we have some breathing room and no need for rash action.

Personally I believe, as many environmentalists tend to, that it's important to consider and avoid the worst likely case. Better to be safe than sorry. In addition there are some that would say even these models don't take into account potential threshold tipping points, where for instance trapped frozen methane deposits might really accelerate warming. Add to this energy security issues and trade balance issues and it would seem the only wise course of action is to ACT NOW.

Stan Peterson

Fantasy ! Total and utter Fantasy.

They say It wouldn't be so bad if we throttled the World's economies. Why the world's GDP only needs to decrease by 3% ! That is several trillions of dollars that could be feeding the poor, and curing the sick, cutting pollution et cetera. Only cynical baby killers on a mass scale could countenance such bald-faced baloney.

For what? That stupid graph is absolute baloney. It isn't scientific or even convincing pseudo-scientific claptrap. It purports to shows temperature changes of tens of degrees Celsius with GHG increases of 20-50 points. They assert that the last much more effective rise of 120 ppm for about half of one degree Celsius rise over that last 125 years.

Their "scenarios" (they don't dare to dignify to call them predictions less they be laughed out of scientific discussions), are ONLY SLIGHTLY WRONG by thousands of times, since the entire effect of all GHG gases, barely raises temperatures by that amount.

It's a declining effect and a logarithmically approaching zero effect. The first increment of effect comes from a rise from zero to 200 ppm; the second increment from 20 to 280ppm; the third increment effect occurs when GHG arises from 280 to 9000 ppm. That's right 9000 ppm. The gap to the next increase is 8720 ppm wide, and we are only 110/8720 ths of the way there. And that is on the assumption that CO2 causes warming.

Increasing new evidence shows that is not true; and its contribution may be only a very minor part of the warming being observed, with most coming from a brightening Sun. The Sun is almost but not quite constant and fluctuates in output by a tiny amount which happens periodically on a cycle of a few hundred years or so. That also explains the wareming observed on other Planets as well.

The warming has been going on since the 1650s and may be due for a reverse soon.


We do not have to trade economy for caution. With a little wisdom and foresight, we can keep economies going and reduce fossil fuel usage and CO2 emissions. There was a study done that showed the losses to GDP worldwide if droughts, crop failures and floods result due to global warming. I think that we all know that we need to use fossil fuels more wisely for so many reasons. Let's quit putting up false excuses and get on with it now.


Ya and flaming pigs will fly out of my rump singing bavarian opera...

NO what it realy means is your gona work 10 years longer then expected at a job you hate for low pay and no pension while some annoying young bleep gets the new job and the new pension and retires before you do...

But thats ok we will just muder youand take your stuff...


Wow winter...the Prozac is not working like it should?



Warmer climate does not produce droughts overall. Colder climate does, according to historical records.

Even according to juiced historical observations adopted by IPCC:

“Long term trends from 1900 to 2005 have been observed in precipitation amount over many large regions. Significantly increased precipitation has been observed in Eastern parts of North and South America, Northern Europe and northern and central Asia. Drying has been observed in the Sahel, Mediterranian, southern of Africa and parts of southern Asia. Precipitation is highly variable spatially and temporally, and data are limited in some regions. Long-term trends have not been observed for the other large regions assessed.”

Last data actually shows that Sahel desert is greening substantially.

US data for 20 century is readily available and shows marked increase in precipitation almost everywhere (light yellow color is zero change!), take a look at the picture :

Two major climate models depicted in the reference produce vastly different for continental US regional distribution of precipitation, but generally predict more precipitation if climate will continue to warm-up.

Scary stories that warmer climate produces more droughts is shameless lie, same as drowning polar bears and more hurricanes.

Regional changes in precipitation will occur, as they did in the past, GW, GC, or no change at all.

richard schumacher

Barring some energy generation or storage breakthrough transportation can be solved by using artificial liquid hydrocarbons as fuel, made from atmospheric CO2 with nuclear, wind, or Solar power. Spending 3% on prevention is much better than spending 15% on the consequences of sea-level rise and half-a-billion refugees. We'll get through this, but on the way a few more ideologies will have to be smacked in the head with the 2x4 called reality.


I wonder if the 3% is total world economy? If so then the effect would be greater than 3% because China refuses to go along. And India? probably not happin there either. Meaning the 3% would be greater becaused it would be concentrated in fewer countries.(i.e.US) Even the enviro concious Europeans would balk at shrinking their econmoies that much if they are already suffering slow/no growth.
As for SJC and 2001 not even Gore could speed battery development. Gore would have tried to push Kyoto through but probably wouldn't had the votes. And during a recession?! Thank God we didn't go down that path.

Shaun Williams

They should rename this site the Green Crackpot Congress.

As it seems to persistently attract the most twisted of environmental viewpoints. Their rants get longer and more irrational, frustrated in the knowledge that nobody's listening.

Did you hear that? - Nobody is LISTENING. Please go away and start up your own website, you can even use the name as suggested, I won't claim IP, I promise.


Hey, it is just electrons, get over it. If you do not want to read what is up here, do not come here and read...simple as that.

Shaun Williams

If it's "just electrons" then why are you bothering to respond to me?

I think when people use words like "Fantasy" and "shameless lie" there's a little more than "just electrons" involved.

I'm not so naive as to expect them to go away because of my rant, it was simply a way of expressing my loathing of such pointlessness, particularly at a site like this. I think most people would understood that.


IPCC and climate change is a bad joke. Check out this Docu:
The Great Global Warming Swindle


Yes han, of course, a single documentory negates the 1000s of scientific papers reviewed and summerised by the IPCC. You simply have no idea. Why don't you try to get some perspective. As a start try reading this:


What I don't understand is if these ranters have some legit arguments, why don't they take them to CLIMATE SCIENTISTS over at realclimate? Here are REAL CLIMATE SCIENTISTS giving up their valauble time to respond to the #*#&&^ you guys spew forth. Why waste our time? Do you really think we are going to start beleiving your cherry picked tid bits taken from ideologically driven web sites over the world's scientific community? GET REAL.


Interesting, the Los Angeles Times has a very different spin on the report:,1,6302171.story

A United Nations panel on Friday released its most comprehensive strategy to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming, but experts said political and economic realities likely doom it to failure.

Although more than 100 countries backed the report, experts said its call for a global, multi-trillion-dollar effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is unrealistic.
"It's not realistic from a political standpoint, and it's not realistic because those targets are incredibly expensive," said Robert Mendelsohn, an economist at Yale University.

Even supporters of the plan were daunted by the speed and scale of action required by the report to stabilize carbon concentrations at slightly above current levels.

"It's hard to imagine," said Jae Edmonds, an economist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland. "So many things have to happen so fast, and they are so big."


Ranting denialists like Stan Peterson used to disgust me and make me want to see them at the target end of the range.  These days I'm more amused.

Okay, Mr. Peterson, if you're such an expert in radiative phenomena, please explain to me why the following scenario is off-base:

The pre-industrial concentration of CO2 was 285 ppm, with much smaller levels of CH4 and NO2 and essentially no SF6, CF4, and other man-made greenhouse gases.  This supported a certain amount of H2O in the air (balanced between evaporation and precipitation) with its consequent greenhouse multiplier.

The current CO2-equivalent GHG concentration is about 430 ppm (about 385 ppm of it CO2).  By your own model, this should shift the former ground-level temperature up to an altitude where the GHG-equivalent through the top of the atmosphere is the same.  The scale height of the atmosphere is roughly 17000 feet (half of the total mass below, half above), so the former ground-level temperature should now be found around 10,000 feet (log(430/285)/log(2)*17000).

The temperature lapse rate of the atmosphere is between 3 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit per 1000 feet.  This would suggest a surface warming of 30 to 50 degrees F.  Obviously we're way below that, but do explain why?

Shaun Williams

It's not the first time you've raised the good idea of discussing the science at realclimate but I suspect their reasons for posting comments here, on the moderate GCC, is because they get away with it.

Do you think there is merit in the LA Times spin? Or is the "multi-trillion-dollar effort" just a transfer of funds from fossil to renewable investment. Do we have so little confidence in our engineering capability that we can only do this in a very expensive way? I doubt it.

I admire your knowledge and patience. Both of which I'm a little short of at the moment. All I know is deniers have to be absurdly arrogant to presume they know more than the hundreds of scientist that contribute to the IPCC and/or monumentally stupid to insist they're simply on a project funding hay ride.


The world's GDP won't decrease by 3%. The money is going to be spent in the global economy - it won't suddenly dissappear. We manage to spend $1 trillion annually on killing each other. How about we divert some of that in the right direction?


The problem is everyone already knows any plan involving alot of scientists and gov... means 20x the cost 5x the timeline.. and not only wi;; it not work.. there is a track record of these things making things WORSE.

So ya spend SOME money on what we THINK will help.. but given our track record we need to be ready in the likely vent it fubars.

I think most people silently just are wondering HOW we will screw the pooch and if they have much chance of getting through this alive... I give it a solid 97 percent chance we not only fail but do so in a way that will be talked about by the survivors for hundreds of years.


On that happy note, we can all scorn government and think that someone will come up with something in their garages. This is a BIG problem, one that not only takes everyone in a country, but most of the industrialized countries of the world participating. I firmly believe that if the court had decided to continue the vote count in 2000, we would have been much farther along on the progress that we need to make. But we will never know what that time line would have been now.


Hal's post from the LA Times put it plain and simple:

"A United Nations panel on Friday released its most comprehensive strategy to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming, but experts said political and economic realities likely doom it to failure."

Under the guise of "a free market approach," they will game "cap & trade" to milk consumers till it's too late.

I'm not worried though. I'll just profit too. "If you can't beat em, join em." Right?

I plan on cornering the market for liposuction waste management services and rendering it into bio-diesel fuel. I will then diversify into Dr. Kevorkian franchises AND render the corpses.



Soylent Green for cars?


In an alternate universe somewhere people are driving EVs, pollution is down and the economy is doing great, Saddam hussein is still in iraq keeping it in order though his vicious dictatorship because 9/11 never happend because President Gore actually listened to Richard Clarke and some anti-terrorism! Great!, now how to we make a portal to there? Sliders anyone?


We can never know, just making better decisions going forward is all we can hope for. Some are saying that foreign policy, economics, national security, environment and other issues are tied together in one way or another. This may be too complex for some people to handle, but going the simplistic route has not worked well so far.

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