President Obama’s administration and officials from the UK, Sweden, Norway and Japan have voiced concern that an upcoming United Nations report makes efforts to combat global warming seem too expensive.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change study, due to be approved in Berlin this week, says nations will have to make drastic emissions cuts to keep global warming below 2 degrees C. Renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon capture will need to triple or quadruple their share of world energy supplies by 2050, the report says, and this shift will cost between 2 and 6 percent of world output, Reuters reports.
“The discussion of the economic costs of mitigation is too narrow and does not incorporate co-benefits of action,” US officials wrote in a submission to the UN, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg.
The State Department officials want to factor in benefits to public health and energy efficiency, and Japan made a similar proposal. Sweden and Norway, among other nations, want to include avoided damages from reduced global warming and from lower sea levels.
British officials said that if the report overstates the price of cutting emissions, that will embolden those who think no action is needed. “The fact that these figures do not include climate impacts only comes much later [in the report],” the UK officials said.
Japan suggested that the writers of the upcoming report, and those of a separate IPCC report released last week, work together “to compare income loss by impact of global warming and cost of mitigation in (the) same metric.”
The officials’ comments could have an effect: IPCC spokesman Jonathan Lynn said the report’s wordings will “certainly be improved” during a week-long session, which began yesterday.
The earlier report said climate change is already affecting every continent, and will worsen unless greenhouse gas emissions are brought under control.
It said that climate change is likely to affect economic sectors ranging from energy production, heating and cooling, and water, to insurance, health and tourism, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to predict effects on other industries.
The report estimated global annual economic losses for temperature increases of about 2°C at 0.2 to 2 percent of income, but registered report reviewer Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said he does not think the estimates are robust. He said the figures are drawn entirely from a paper by Richard Tol, containing several errors.