The Economics of Low Stabilization: Model Comparison of Mitigation Strategies and Costs

The objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is "stabilization of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". Reaching the target of climate stabilization at no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century - which is how the European Union (EU) interprets Article 2 - is a historic challenge for humankind. To make it likely that this challenge will be met, greenhouse gas concentrations have to be limited to at least 450 ppm CO2 equivalent (for a 50 % likelihood) or below. This presupposes a portfolio of mitigation options for very stringent emission reductions and requires taking action now.

This study gives a synthesis of a model comparison assessing the technological feasibility and economic consequences of achieving greenhouse gas concentration targets that are sufficiently low to keep the increase in global mean temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. All five global energy-environment-economy models show that achieving low greenhouse gas concentration targets is technically feasible and economically viable. The ranking of the importance of individual technology options is robust across models. For the lowest stabilization target (400 ppm CO2 eq), the use of bio-energy in combination with CCS plays a crucial role, and biomass potential dominates the cost of reaching this target. Without CCS or the considerable extension of renewables the 400 ppm CO2 eq target is not achievable. Across the models, estimated aggregate costs up to 2100 are below 0.8% global GDP for 550 ppm CO2 eq stabilization and below 2.5% for the 400 ppm CO2 eq pathway.

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ADAM supports the EU in the development of post-2012 global climate policies, the definition of European mitigation policies to reach its 2020 goals, and the emergence of new adaptation policies for Europe with special attention to the role of extreme weather events.


Edenhofer O, Knopf B, Barker T, Baumstark L, Bellevrat E, Chateau B, Criqui P, Isaac M, Kitous A, Kypreos S, Leimbach M, Lessmann K, Magne B, Scrieciu S, Turton, van Vuuren DP


Publication title
The Economics of Low Stabilization: Model Comparison of Mitigation Strategies and Costs
Publication date
15 June 2010
Publication type
Energy Journal 31(special issue 1):11-48
Product number