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Political action crucial to achieving climate targets - study

Political action crucial to achieving climate targets - study
Climate Change Conference 2012 in Doha, Qatar. Photo courtesy of I.I.A.S.A.

In meeting climate target levels, the most important uncertainty to consider is “political,” suggested a new study co-authored by International Institute for Applied Science Analysis, ETH Zurich and National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The biggest uncertainty is the question of when countries will make serious efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement policies that will support climate mitigation and adaptation, stated the study which quantified and ranked the uncertainties linked in efforts to tackle climate change.

If no immediate actions from the national governments will be taken, target levels will become even more difficult to achieve and more expensive, it warned.

“With a twenty-year delay, you can throw as much money as you have at the problem, and the best outcome you can get is a fifty-fifty chance of keeping temperature rise below two degrees,” said Keywan Riahi, I.I.A.S.A. energy program head and study co-author.

Another important uncertainty is “social,” which has the ability to influence consumer energy demand. According to the study, social uncertainties are those that are associated with energy consumption and the adoption of new efficient technologies, such as the people’s awareness and choices.

Lastly, geophysical and technological uncertainties are also crucial in achieving climate target levels. Geophysical uncertainties pertain to “the unknown and unknowable” factors regarding how climate system respond to greenhouse gas emissions, while technological uncertainties pertain to questions about which energy supply and carbon capture schemes will be available in the future.

"How much energy the world consumes going forward turns out to be a much bigger swing factor for climate change than the availability of technologies like solar and wind power, biofuels, and so on,” said I.I.A.S.A. researcher David McCollum and another study co-author.

“We wanted to frame the problem in a new way and try to understand which uncertainties matter in trying to limit global warming by specific climate action,” said Joeri Rogelj, ETH researcher and lead author of the study. – EcoSeed Staff

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