Controlling global warming is economically feasible. Much of the technology already exists, but quick action is needed, according to the final report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.)
The battle against global warming would cost 0.1 percent of the world's GDP
Steps to control global warming would require less than 0.1 percent of world's annual gross domestic product, according to the 24-page report released by the IPCC on Friday in Bangkok.
"If we continue to do what we are doing now, we are in deep trouble," said Ogunlade Davidson, co-chair of the IPCC. "This report is all about solutions to climate change."
The report presented a best-case scenario of limiting global warming to 2.0-2.4 degrees Celsius (3.6-4.3 degrees Fahrenheit), which is generally recognized as the threshold to avoiding the most extreme consequences of climate change.
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There is "substantial" potential for the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below current levels without crippling the global economy since many of the tools already exist and could be quickly implemented, the report said.
Harnessing more solar, wind, and hydro-power could have a large effect on reducing greenhouse gasses, the report said.
Nascent technology that could store carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas, underground is also mentioned by the report, as are tariffs and other economic mechanisms to make using fossil fuels more expensive and lower prices for renewable energy use.
"There is substantial economic potential for the mitigation of global greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades," the report said, adding that greenhouse emissions would have to be cut to between 50 and 85 percent of year 2000 levels by 2050 to keep the world in line with the report's best-case scenario.
IPCC cited wind energy as an important existing technlolgy
After intense debate, climate experts and representatives from 105 countries reached a consensus on the IPCC document Friday. Final approval had been held up by few key sticking points and the complexity of the document, according to participants.
The cost of reducing greenhouse gases that cause global warming was one of the biggest disputes, with China expressing concern about the economic impact of cutting back, one European delegate said.
Another matter of contention was how much importance to give nuclear energy in the mix of new technologies that the world could use in a shift away from fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases, the European delegate said.
Next up: the G8 summit
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The report is the IPCC's third and last for the year. The first two reports looked into the evidence for and impacts of global warming.
"It has been shown for the first time that stopping climate pollution in a very ambitious way does not cost a fortune," said Stephan Singer of the World Wildlife Fund. "There is no excuse for any government to argue that it is going to cause their economy to collapse."
"It's a great report and the conclusions are quite strong," said Greenpeace's Bill Hare, one of the led authors of report. Though he admitted that it's "a little hard to read."
After the Bangkok IPCC talks, the next two important meetings for climate change are the June summit of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialized countries in Germany and an end-of-the-year environmental summit in Bali to set world targets on emissions reductions.
"We have no time to lose," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Friday. "It's important that we set the right course at the climate conference in Bali in December."