Pledged reductions are not enough

Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions currently proposed by industrialized countries fall short of the pathway to reach a two-degree target, despite the fact that the cost of meeting these pledges is much lower than anticipated.

According to a study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), by 2020, total GHG emissions of industrialized (Annex I) countries would decline by between only 5 and 17 per cent, relative to 1990.

“Our analysis strongly suggests that the costs to Annex I countries implied by their current negotiation offers are indeed very low with respect to their GDP,” says Markus Amann at IIASA. “Even for the most optimistic 17 per cent emissions reduction, mitigation costs would not exceed 0.01–0.05 per cent per annum of the GDP of all Annex I countries, and this is insignificant compared to a 42-per-cent increase in GDP that is assumed between now and 2020 for these same countries.”

IIASA’s analysis also reveals significant co-benefits for local air quality as a result of reduced GHG emissions. Despite the low ambition, implied mitigation measures would cut SO2, NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions by approximately 10 per cent at no extra costs, which will reduce negative health and environmental impacts accordingly.

In November, IIASA published two new reports analysing the implications of the current economic crisis for Annex I greenhouse gas mitigation potentials and costs, and updating the cost implications of the emission reduction pledges made by Annex I Parties.

Application of abatement measures for which cost savings over their technical life time exceed the up-front investments (i.e., measures with negative mitigation costs over their life cycle), could reduce total Annex I emissions by 23 per cent below 1990 levels without net costs over the life cycle. For a pre-crisis projection this potential was estimated at only 14 per cent.

All three reports can be downloaded from IIASA’s website:

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