Climate change mitigation doesn’t cost the earth

7166014680_9cfcb8b628_b1Joint press release

by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

and the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)


“Climate change mitigation doesn’t cost the earth”: IPCC author Edenhofer

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) completed its Fifth Assessment Report on Sunday in Copenhagen. Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group III ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’, and one of the authors of the now released Synthesis Report, points to the contrast between the potentially irreversible impacts of unmitigated climate change and the manageable costs of ambitious mitigation.   

“Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising, rising, rising,” says Edenhofer, who is chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and director of the Berlin-based Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). GHG emissions growth accelerated between 2000 and 2010 compared to the previous three decades.

“We are currently not on track to meet the agreed two degrees goal. And the more we delay the respective mitigation efforts, the greater the risks facing us will be – risks of climate impacts, but also the risks of mitigation,” explains Edenhofer.

The IPCC Synthesis Report shows that unabated climate change increases the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts. These include negative impacts for biodiversity, ecosystem services, and economic development and they amplify risks for livelihoods, and food and human security.

“Mitigation also entails risks,” Edenhofer points out. Open questions concern, for instance, the upscaling of electricity generation from biomass or carbon dioxide capture and storage, which is a technology untested at large-scale deployment. “But these risks are manageable, which is the fundamental difference to the potentially unmanageable risks of climate change,” Edenhofer continues.

The contribution of his Working Group to the Fifth Assessment Report shows that global economic growth is not strongly affected by climate policy. “There is no doubt that climate policy has its costs, but it does not cost the Earth to save the planet for our children,” says Edenhofer.

The economist regards carbon pricing as essential. “The atmosphere is a limited disposal that cannot be used for free,” Edenhofer underlines.

The Synthesis Report is the fourth and final contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. In Copenhagen, its Summary for Policymakers has been approved. The contributions of the three IPCC Working Groups were published in autumn 2013 and spring 2014.

Further information:

IPCC media advisory:

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1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    The latest in a long, laughable list of IPCC reports is filled with what eminent Canadian mathematician Christopher Essex has called, “hilarious bamboozling paras-scientific probability language.”

    For the record, Professor Christopher Essex, Ph.D., is a Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Applied Mathematics, at the University of Western Ontario. He co-authored the “Doctrine of Certainty” with Professor Ross McKitrick, Ph.D, a Canadian economist specializing in environmental economics and policy analysis at the University of Guelph. In it, they illustrate how many of the ideas expressed by climate campaigners such as Al Gore and David Suzuki are the consequences of belief in what Essex and McKitrick call the “Doctrine of Certainty.” This is “a collection of now familiar assertions about climate that are to be accepted without question”. They go on to explain, “But the Doctrine is not true. Each assertion is either manifestly false or the claim to know is false.” IPCC anyone?

    The Synthesis Report is the fourth and final contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. Can anybody really follow that or will I be required to author yet another Fifth Contribution to my Fourth Assessment Report which is a follow on to my 3rd Overall Statement of Policy Concern which in turn was my Second Bi-Annual Tax Payer Freedom Day Celebratory Commentary? The really good news is this latest IPCC Stew, made up as it is of far too many previous day old stews and liberally (what else?) sprinkled with doom and gloom words and jingoist phrases intended to engender panic, has come and gone quickly. No surprise there. Pray let it be the last!

    A functioning agreement at next year’s lah-di-dah, 5 star get together at the Conference of the Parties in Paris would certainly be a surprise. Will people picket about its 0-1% chance? And why don’t these toffs ever meet in Buffalo in the winter?

    The IPCC Report is dedicated to the late Stephen Schneider, a Stanford professor and proponent of bending science in pursuit of a “better world.” That’s right, “bending science.” Is that science at all? Hey, who cares? Professor Schneider himself was an ardent fan of global cooling some forty years ago. He was wrong then too. His most famous recommendation, made in 1989, was that scientists needed to get “loads of media coverage,” and thus “offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” Well, he was as scientific as the IPCC Report dedicated to him. By these standards, he was good choice. Hardly scientific but then neither is the IPCC.

    The IPCC press release states, “Human influence on the climate system is clear and growing.” A puzzling statement when you consider that industrial emissions of CO2 have been growing at an increasingly rapid rate, while at the same time average global temperatures have remained constant for more than fifteen years. Some estimates say as much as 26 years but who is counting? In any case, the IPCC brushes this detail aside as a “variability.” The lack of a temperature rise is a “hiatus” due to the strong El Nino in 1998 causing a sensitivity to beginning and end dates. Fifteen years ago, their prominent climate scientists claimed that 1998’s heat was all about man-made global warming and not “natural” events such as El Nino. But that was then. Yesterday’s global warming is today’s “natural” event. Figures can lie and liars can, well, you know.

    “Emissions of greenhouse gases are rising, rising, rising,” says Edenhofer in what can only be interpreted as an attempt at song writing. Good title for a dance tune, I think.

    The report does concede adaptation as a sensible approach (you think?) to dealing with whatever climate change may hold in store. However, it urges “stringent” mitigation measures under the auspices of the bureaucratically incompetent U.N. That thought alone suspends credulity. World-wide measures taken thus far have been economically ruinous and climatically pointless.

    A bigger problem is governments, in a vain glorious attempt to be seen as doing something, continue to make idiotic policy decisions that undermine the economic interests of their own citizens. So who voted for that?

    A prime example is the Liberal (it’s a Party here in the Great White North) government here in Ontario, where I live. We have wasted billions of tax payer dollars pretending to eliminate the use of coal to produce electricity by creating a multi-billion-dollar wind and solar power cockup. This mess requires massive public subsidies and inflated hydro bills to sustain it. This has severely damaged the manufacturing base, the once engine of Canada. In reality, both wind and solar power supply an insignificant and unneeded amount of unreliable power to Ontario’s electricity grid. We lose $1 Billion per year selling our surplus at ½ price to New York State. The madness will stop, but when?

    Ontario eliminated its reliance on coal through the increased use of nuclear and natural gas-fired electricity. Sadly, our spanking new natural gas plants are forced to do double duty backing up unreliable wind and solar power. There you have the idiocy of it all, subsidized wind and solar power have to be supported by fossil fuel energy.

    Its not just us. The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme, also known as a fraud-ridden stock market, has raised electricity prices to the point where millions of households have been forced into fuel poverty, with no significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

    In the U.S., President Barack Obama has wasted billions of public dollars subsidizing wind and solar power. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are dropping mainly because of the increasing use of fracking to free up vast underground reserves of domestic natural gas. The U.S. is using this gas to replace some of its coal-fired electricity. Obama is against fracking and oil but is reaping the benefits of policies initiated under Bush’s administration. Oops. In Canada, U.S. funded eco-warriors picket and protest the very technology Obama grudgingly brags about as it reduces his deficit but not his debt, which continues to grow.

    Again, for the record, the oil sands in Alberta, are an insignificant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions at just over 0.14%. Don’t like pipe lines? Get ready for truck and rail spills coming soon to your area.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has calculated that if the U.S. were to close down all its coal-fired power plants and replace them with zero-emissions alternatives, average global temperatures would be lowered by 1/20th of a degree Fahrenheit in 100 years’ time. Obama’s anti-coal policy has led to U.S. coal being shipped abroad, adding to the global coal boom. I guess it doesn’t matter where it burns. Is that the idea?

    Want a prediction? Obama will showboat at the Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris by making uninformed promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions everyone knows will never be kept. After all, climate is one of Obama’s “legacy issues” even though as the mid-term elections clearly demonstrated, climate is lower on U.S. voters’ list of priorities than the President’s own basement level approval ratings. As with Obamacare, immigration, gun control, debt and foreign policy, climate has brought the president a pile of woe. Paris will be his Kyoto.

    This was the exact same policy the Federal Liberals pursued under former Prime
    Minister Jean Chretien when he committed Canada to Kyoto’s unrealistic and
    punitive greenhouse gas emission targets. They have since admitted they knew they couldn’t achieve the targets when they agreed to them. This was done partly for legacy and partly for spite to punish members of his own party for not supporting him. Sound familiar? It was left to the Conservatives to withdraw from Kyoto. The
    same will happen to Obama. You read it here first. This will be Obama’s last desperate attempt at a legacy. Someone should tell him that you don’t create a legacy for yourself, history grants it to you.

    The United States does not have a cap-and-trade market and neither will Canada until such time as one exists south of the border. The U.S. won’t have one until China and India do. Good luck with that. Why deliberately put another anchor on your economy?

    “There is no doubt that climate policy has its costs, but it does not cost the Earth to save the planet for our children,” says Edenhofer.

    What it does cost, of course, are jobs and the ability to clothe and feed these children.

    The IPCC’s report’s mid-range scenarios actually suggest there is little to be alarmed about. The modelling forecasts are far less scary than the recommendation that scientists should exaggerate or lie in what they believe to be a good cause. By honouring Schneider, the IPCC is at long last admitting its own orientation. Happily, the IPCC is becoming less relevant by the day.

    What’s next? Well, we’ll have extreme snow, extreme rain and generally extreme everything. Why not? Every bit of weather is the worst of all time and sure to mean disaster somewhere for someone. For sure it will be the most expensive. Clean ups are no longer achieved at .38 cents an hour as they were in 1900 after the largest hurricane in American history wiped out Galveston, Texas.

    For those unfamiliar, that hurricane made landfall on September 8, 1900 and had estimated winds of 145 miles per hour (233 km/h), making it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. (These numbers are also estimates as the scale was not invented until 1969 and all other recordings are based on instruments such as they were in 1900). It was the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, and the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history based on the dollar’s 2005 value.

    The next time you want to talk about a bad storm try to remember that the Galveston Hurricane crossed through the U.S. into Canada and was last seen in Russia. It is the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States. The estimated death toll was between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals. Today, the 8,000 number is widely accepted. The deadliest storm of recent times, Hurricane Katrina, claimed the lives of approximately 1,800 people.

    But those IPCC and Potsdam guys do need a project and the grants always follow the noise. Just ask Professor Schneider. He’s got an IPCC report dedicated to him. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Potsdam and the IPCC would be thrilled with such a record!

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