Friday, January 28, 2011

UN panel sees low/no-cost path to massive greenhouse gas cuts

Here's what could be good news if policymakers were paying attention. The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) reported a few days ago that a relatively inexpensive combination of renewable energy and energy-efficiency improvements could go far to meeting emissions reduction goals related to climate change, potentially buying time to introduce carbon capture and storage technologies. 
Cost-effective renewable energy could supply 21 per cent of all industrial energy by 2050, providing ten per cent of all reductions needed to counter a potential future of devastating droughts, floods, desertification, rising oceans, ever more powerful storms, shrinking glaciers and other possible effects of climate change.

At nearly two gigatonnes of CO2, this represents 25 per cent of the total expected emission reductions of the industry sector – equivalent to the total current CO2 emissions of France, Germany, Italy and Spain, or around one third of current emissions in the United States.

Industrial energy efficiency potential worldwide amounts to 26 per cent, with that in developing countries nearly twice as high as in developed nations, according to the reports. [news article; full report]
The industrial efficiency measures, in particular, are no-brainers or what are sometimes called "no-regrets" strategies, since they cut industry costs while saving energy (and reducing carbon outputs) at the same time. The report notes that renewable sources won't be cost-competitive in places (such as the USA...) where fossil fuels are subsidized. If subsidies are eliminated, renewables are already competitive, and they're already clear winners where carbon outputs are priced.

Note that this isn't the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but an unrelated UN agency.

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