IPCC WG3: it does not cost the world to save the planet

by Gareth on April 13, 2014

The IPCC has just released the summary for policymakers of the Working Group 3 report on mitigating climate change. It makes clear that the world has to act quickly to restrict carbon emissions to have a reasonable chance of restricting warming to 2ºC by the end of the century, but establishes that the costs of action are affordable.

A few key points:

  • Annual greenhouse gas emissions have risen 10 GtCO2eq between 2000 and 2010, and half of all emissions since 1750 have occurred in the last 40 years
  • If no further actions are taken to reduce emissions global mean surface temperature in 2100 will increase by 3.7 to 4.8°C compared to pre‐industrial levels
  • To have a reasonable chance of staying under 2ºC of warming in 2100 means restricting greenhouse gases to 450 ppm CO2eq
  • Hitting 450 ppm CO2eq will mean “substantial cuts in anthropogenic GHG emissions by mid‐century through large‐scale changes in energy systems and potentially land use”
  • Typical 450 ppm CO2eq scenarios include overshooting the target and then removal of CO2 by bionenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), though “carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies and methods are uncertain and CDR technologies and methods are, to varying degrees, associated with challenges and risks”
  • The Cancun pledges are not consistent with cost-effective efforts to hit 2ºC, and are more likely to commit the world to 3ºC of warming
  • The sooner we act, the cheaper overall mitigation will be – as little as 0.06% of annual GDP growth to hit 450 ppm CO2eq

Commenting on the report for the Science Media Centre, VUW climate scientist Jim Renwick said:

The WGIII report charts many possible futures where we cap the warming at 2 degrees. Action, such as moving to 100% renewable electricity generation, needs to start immediately. New Zealand is as well-placed as any nation to lead the world on this, provided we have the political will. That appears to be lacking right now – there’s plenty of talk about emissions reductions targets, while at the same time we’re opening the country up to more oil drilling and coal mining. The latest MfE report shows New Zealand’s emissions have gone up 25% since 1990, and they are on track to keep rising.

Per head of population, we are some of the biggest emitters on the planet. Clean and green? 100% pure? Right now – I don’t think so.

Read more at The Guardian and BBC. I’ll have a post with more NZ reaction in due course.

Summary for policymakers (pdf)

Full report (available from April 15th)

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Bingham April 14, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I was hoping that when the last IPCC report came out that they would introduce a new level of forecasting to sit above ‘worst case scenario’. Its a sad reflection on NZ and other countries that all the IPCC forecasts of emissions have been inadequate and we have all been consistently worse than they could possibly imagine.

nigelj April 14, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Unfortunately this document will no doubt fall on deaf ears. So many governments choose to be in denial. The self appointed journalist come science “expert” christoper moncton says it will all be ok. So it must be ok.

CTG April 15, 2014 at 6:26 am

The good thing is that the media finally seem to have got the message that false balance is worse than no balance. 3 News has managed to put together several pieces on the IPCC reports without interviewing some numbskull like Leyland. A shame the government still isn’t listening, though.

nigelj April 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

Yes false balance is worse than anything, and things have improved a little in the media. However it’s inevitable the media will interview sceptics at some point, and sadly while our journalists are usually pretty good, the media have often been poor on climate change understanding and interviews.

Sceptics get away with too many outrageous, misleading claims in the media. By media I mean television, newspapers, radio. It’s important that journalists challenge sceptics on the key points, which means knowing the subject, or finding someone who does.

noelfuller April 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Last night I watched on Al Jazeera a half hour interview with a lead author (Karen Seto) and the chief of the London School of Economics climate section (Bob someone). The questions were good and the answers better. I’ve caught by chance a number of climate related reports on Aljazeera and not seen any “denialists”.

John C April 17, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Why is everyone here so afraid of different opinions? Is it because sceptics too easily picking holes in the baseless doom mongering?

Macro April 17, 2014 at 8:35 pm

John we are not afraid of your opinions, we are just desperately tired of hearing them – they are ill-informed, have no value and lead nowhere. It’s time to move on.

John C April 17, 2014 at 8:44 pm

That’s for the public to decide.

CTG April 17, 2014 at 11:41 pm

No, it’s not. This is not a popularity contest. One side is backed by science, the other is backed by oil money. You may be swayed by the oil money, the rest of us are not.

If the so-called sceptics actually had some science backing up their arguments, it would be a different matter.

Macro April 18, 2014 at 9:40 am

Ever heard of “Government”. The word originates from the greek “kubernan” ‘to steer’. In a democracy we elect people to govern us i.e. to regulate and guide the people. The government has been given ample advise of the need to act, yet continues to sit on its hands. That is NOT good government.

John C April 18, 2014 at 7:18 am

Yes it is.
If you don’t like democracy try moving to china. I’m sure you will love what they are doing for the environment. That old oil money myth undermines anything else you say. Where is the evidence? Have they paid Rodney hide off too?

Macro April 18, 2014 at 9:46 am

Actually you’re argument falls flat right there. China is perhaps the most proactive country in the world with regards taking action on reducing the effects of global warming and climate change – but in your ignorance you wouldn’t know that.

CTG April 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

Yes, where is the evidence? Present some scientific evidence to back the “sceptic” case. Oh that’s right, there isn’t any.

John C April 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm

China is the single biggest threat to the climate, assuming their emissions were actually warming the planet. They might make a few windmills but lets not forget the massive volume of emissions and other pollutants they pump into the atmosphere. Good grief that is a wacky position.

Thomas April 20, 2014 at 10:45 am


Its you John C and your compatriots in the Western World (and that includes me!) who are the biggest threat to the climate! Check out per/capita emissions. China has lass than half of the per capita emission of Australia or the USA. And that is despite China manufacturing the lion share of the crap we surround ourselves with. They emit CO2 on your and mine behalf each time we wander into the Warehouse or pretty much any other importing shops in the country. If you were to add the emissions China generates this way on our behalf into our share of the burden, then the per capita responsibility for wrecking the planet would land even more obviously on our door step!!
And your little side snipe: “…assuming their emissions were actually warming the planet.” is surely the result of some rather unfortunate mental short circuit of yours….!

Thomas April 20, 2014 at 11:01 am

And to add some more food for thought John C, China is now the worlds largest producer of solar panels by far. Chinese PV production will add the equivalent of 10 nuclear reactors in from of PV alone to the world’s renewable generation capacity this year!

And China’s wind energy will grow to 200GW by 2020, the equivalent of installed capacity over 50 nuclear power plants.

And yes, China does burn lots of coal at the moment but they know they must change and they will. Just the air pollution issue and the massive health impacts from coal burning is simply intolerable for them.

Tony April 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm

One thing China does not seem to have is a truckload of belly aching denialists spouting misinformation like a broken record. New Zealand is well endowed with such Magoos as is illustrated on this web site. The Chinese just get on with the task at hand, cranking up renewables because it is the moral thing to do that will sooner or later pay off.

andyS April 20, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Presumably the reason that “denialists” don’t get much time in China may be partly due to their one party system.

It seemed to work for the Beijing Olympics where people were forcibly evicted from their homes to make room for Olympic villages and stadia

Somehow I find it hard to reconcile China being “moral” when the state determines how many children a family can have, and still send people to “re education camps” to enforce political correctness.

John C April 24, 2014 at 8:01 am

Environmentalists wanting everyone to be more like China, now I have heard it all.

No info here about why NZ would be advantaged to act now on climate change.

John C April 24, 2014 at 8:02 am

It’s like the missing link. We must act now!!! We just don’t know why.

Thomas April 24, 2014 at 10:31 am

I know John C, its hard to comprehend for you. You don’t get the climate science and you certainly don’t get the economics either.

John C April 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Explain it to me Thomas. I am not disputing the science so just the economics will do.

bill April 24, 2014 at 2:48 pm

You’re ‘not disputing the science’, and yet you maintain that the ‘boffins’ at the IPCC have made mistakes so serious that no ‘reponsible world leader’ should credit – or act on – their pronouncements!

‘Yeah, right’, as the young folk do say…

andyS April 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

No one is disputing “the science” because there is very little science to dispute.
There is more substance to an anorexic 12 year old.

Rob Taylor April 24, 2014 at 6:39 pm

See the happy moron,
He doesn’t give a damn…

Andy sure sounds like a moron,
My God, perhaps he am?

andyS April 24, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Taylor, there is very little I have to add.
Could you perhaps fill in a timesheet on what you have done today to “tackle” the climate?

In your own time, of course

Rob Taylor April 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Well, Andy, I’ve spent the day telecommuting between Auckland, Sydney and Christchurch without using a drop of petrol and / or avgas.

My main contribution however, has been – unlike yourself – to not mindlessly echo the lies of American pollutocrats who put short-term profits above the lives of millions.

John C April 24, 2014 at 5:57 pm


I here declare that the IPCC is 100% correct all the time and world leaders need to act asap!

Now can you explain why acting before the those world leaders get their act is advantageous for NZ? We agree on everything now except how soon to act. I put it to you that an agreement might take years and in that time our exports will needlessly suffer if we act too soon. How do you respond?

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