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Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change - headlines

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Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change

Press Release, IPCC
– A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen to unprecedented levels despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change. Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades.

According to the Working Group III contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, it would be possible, using a wide array of technological measures and changes in behaviour, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, only major institutional and technological change will give a better than even chance that global warming will not exceed this threshold..

Link to Summary for Policymakers
Press Release
(13 April 2014)

15 key findings from the IPCC mitigation report

Energydesk staff, Greenpeace
Here are the main findings from the IPCC's WGIII report, taken the Summary for Policymakers (SPM), the Technical Summary and underlying chapters, seen by Energydesk:

1) Serious emissions cuts haven’t really started yet - greenhouse gases emitted still rising "Total anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions have continued to increase over 1970 to 2010 with larger absolute decadal increases toward the end of this period (high confidence). Despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual GHG emissions grew on average by 1.0 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2eq) (2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 GtCO2eq (1.3%) per year from 1970 to 2000 (Figure SPM.1). Total anthropogenic GHG emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010 and reached 49 (±4.5) GtCO2eq/yr in 2010. The global economic crisis 2007/2008 only temporarily reduced emissions. [1.3, 5.2, 13.3, 15.2.2, Box TS.5, Figure 15.1] [SPM Page 5]...

2) If we carry on as we are it will result in 3.7 to 4.8 degrees of warming by the end of the century “Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, emissions growth is expected to persist driven by growth in global population and economic activities. Baseline scenarios, those without additional mitigation, result in global mean surface temperature increases in 2100 from 3.7 to 4.8°C compared to pre‐industrial levels (median values; the range is 13 2.5°C to 7.8°C when including climate uncertainty, see Table SPM.1).” [SPM page 8]

3) It is not too late to limit warming to less than 2°C – or maybe even 1.5°C “Scenarios reaching atmospheric concentrations levels of about 450 ppm CO2eq by 2100 (consistent with a likely chance to keep temperature change below 2°C relative to preindustrial levels) include substantial cuts in anthropogenic GHG emissions by mid-century through large-scale changes in energy systems and potentially land use (high confidence). Scenarios reaching these concentrations by 2100 are characterized by lower global GHG emissions in 2050 than in 2010, 40% to 70% lower globally, and emissions levels near zero GtCO2eq or below in 2100.” [SPM page 11]

”Only a limited number of studies have explored scenarios that are more likely than not to bring temperature change back to below 1.5°C by 2100 relative to preindustrial levels; these scenarios bring atmospheric concentrations to below 430 ppm CO2eq by 2100 (high confidence). (…) In these scenarios, the cumulative CO2 emissions range between 655-815 GtCO2 for the period 2011-2050 and between 90-350 GtCO2 for the period 2011-2100. Global CO2-eq emissions in 2050 are between 70-95% below 2010 emissions, and they are between 110-120% below 2010 emissions in 2100.” SPM. P. 22 and footnote.” [SPM Page 19]

4) Fossil fuels contributed 78% to the total GHG emissions increase between 1970 and 2010 “CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78% of the total GHG emission increase from 1970 to 2010, with a similar percentage contribution for the period 2000-2010 (high confidence). Fossil fuel-related CO2 emissions reached 32 (±2.7) GtCO2/yr, in 2010, and grew further by about 3% between 2010 and 2011 and by about 1-2% between 2011 and 2012.” [SPM page 5]...
(13 April 2014)

IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable

Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable.

“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team.

The cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, the report found. Gas – including that from the global fracking boom – could be important during the transition, Edenhofer said, but only if it replaced coal burning.

The authoritative report, produced by 1,250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, dismisses fears that slashing carbon emissions would wreck the world economy. It is the final part of a trilogy that has already shown that climate change is “unequivocally” caused by humans and that, unchecked, it poses a grave threat to people and could lead to wars and mass migration.

Diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the IPCC report concluded.

“The report is clear: the more you wait, the more it will cost [and] the more difficult it will become,” said EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard. The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said: “This report is a wake-up call about global economic opportunity we can seize today as we lead on climate change.”....
(14 April 2014)

U.S. urges IPCC to be less boring, try this whole “online” thing

John Upton, Grist
Thousands of scientists volunteer to review research published by thousands of other scientists – part of an effort to pack all of the latest and best climate science into assessment reports from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But anybody who takes the time to read these reports is in danger of being bored to tears — even before they break down in tears over the scale of the damage that we’re inflicting on humanity and our planet.

After publishing five mammoth reports during its quarter-century of existence, the IPCC is facing an existential crisis. How can it reinvent its aging self – and its dry scientific reports — to better serve the warming world?

The U.S. is clear on what the IPCC needs to do: It needs to get with the times...
(14 April 2014)

Controversy over Biofuels and Land Cut from IPCC Summary

Tiffany Stecker and ClimateWire, Scientific American
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change removed a reference to indirect land-use change, a point that provoked sharp disagreement in the final Working Group III "Summary for Policymakers" report released yesterday.

An earlier version of the report seen by ClimateWire indicates that there is medium evidence in the existing body of scientific studies that "the scientific debate about the marginal emissions of most bioenergy pathways ... such as indirect land use change, remains unresolved."

Indirect land-use change, ILUC for short, accounts for the impacts of rising biofuel demand and grain prices on cropland around the world. For example, if more acres in the American Midwest are allocated to growing corn for ethanol, this could push up the price of corn in Brazil, where farmers could expand crops into rainforest areas.

Sources say the subsection on biofuels was a particularly divisive part of the IPCC report, with optimistic scientists and renewable fuel-focused countries pushing to highlight the benefits of replacing petroleum fuels with plant-based alternatives, and others pushing to include the negative aspects...
(14 April 2014)

Does the IPCC endorse fracking?

Ros Donald, The Carbon BriefB
Nations must cut their emissions very quickly if they are to limit the extent of global emissions: that's the conclusion of a new report out yesterday from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Some media outlets have focused on an IPCC spokesperson's apparent endorsement of shale gas as a way to mitigate global warming. But a look at the summary reveals gas has to be deployed with caution if countries are to reduce emissions and limit the extent of climate change.

Articles in the Daily Mail, Sun and Sunday Times focus on comments in the SPM and by an IPCC spokesperson on the role natural gas could play in the world's emissions-reduction efforts.

Speaking to reporters, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chairman of the IPCC authors, said:

"The shale gas revolution can be very consistent with low-carbon development - that is quite clear. It can be very helpful as a bridge technology."

The Mail calls the "unexpected endorsement" a blow to "green activists who seek cuts in greenhouse gas emissions but are concerned about the effects of fracking".

So which of the report's conclusions could apply to shale gas, and how should we understand them in the context of the overall findings?...
(14 April 2014)

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