Stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at low levels: an assessment of options and costs

14-11-2006 | Publication

The EU target of limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celcius can only be achieved with high certainty when greenhouse gas concentrations stabilise at low levels. Required emission reductions are technically feasible at a likely range of direct costs in the order of 1-2% of global GDP. This will require immediate action and ambitious climate policy, a broad range of options and worldwide participation in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This is the main finding of a study documented here to investigate options for low stabilisation targets.

Ambitious climate policy can limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees

Preventing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference of the climate system’ may require stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at relatively low levels such as 550 ppm CO2-eq. and below. Relatively few studies exist that have analysed the possibilities and implications of meeting such stringent climate targets. This report presents a series of related papers that addres this issue – either by focusing on individual options or by presenting overall strategies at the global and regional level.

The results show that it is technically possible to reach ambitious climate targets – with abatement costs for default assumptions in the order of 1-2% of global GDP. To achieve these lower concentration levels, global emissions need to peak within 15-20 years. The stabilisation scenarios use a large portfolio of measures, including energy efficiency but also carbon capture and storage, large scale application of bio-energy, reduction of non-CO2 gases, increased use of renewable and/or nuclear power and carbon plantations.