UN urges world to intensify efforts to cut emissions | Asia Pacific

UN urges world to intensify efforts to cut emissions

UN urges world to intensify efforts to cut emissions

Updated 14 April 2014, 11:38 AEST

The world's leading climate science body has released its second report in two weeks, this time outlining how the planet can avoid dangerous climate change.

It's found greenhouse gas emissions are at unprecedented levels, despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change.

And as for the cost of mitigation? Economists estimate it would be up to 6 per cent of GDP by 2050.

Reporter: Jake Sturmer

Speaker: Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Professor Frank Jotzo, report author, IPCC; Professor Peter Newman, lead author of the transport chapter; Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman

JAKE STURMER: Just how much will it cost to avoid dangerous climate change?

It's the million, or perhaps billion dollar question that professor Ottmar Edenhofer has been trying to answer.

OTTMAR EDENHOFER: It does not cost the world to save the planet

He's the co-chair of the latest report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

His IPCC colleague, fellow economist and lead author professor Frank Jotzo, says the cost of reducing emissions would be between 2 and 6 per cent of GDP in 2050.

FRANK JOTZO: What that means is that on an annualised basis, that would be almost impossible to see on a chart because economies will keep growing even with very ambitious climate change action.

JAKE STURMER: Almost three-quarters of the world's increasing emissions have come from the energy supply and industry sectors.

Professor Ottmar Edenhofer says the solution requires major institutional and technological changes.

OTTMAR EDENHOFER: We have an increasing emission and even an increasing growth of emission over the last decade, despite of economic crisis and the financial crisis and despite of remarkable mitigation efforts all over the globe.

JAKE STURMER: More than 10 per cent of the world's increasing emissions came from transport.

Lead author of the transport chapter professor Peter Newman says given Australia's remoteness and the distance between cities, there's likely to be a great challenge to reduce emissions in the sector.

PETER NEWMAN: There's still issues with freight transport and aircraft - aviation - they're both growing substantially and don't show any great sign of peaking and declining as they must.

JAKE STURMER: Even the IPCC's chairman Rajendra Pachauri was keeping with the transport theme.

RAJENDRA PACHAURI: The high speed mitigation train would need to leave the station soon and all of global society would have to get on board.

The European Union is already on board. It's set up an emissions trading scheme, the world's biggest carbon market.

But it's faced significant problems and the report says cap and trade systems in the short-term have had a limited environmental effect because of caps that haven't proved to be constraining.

Professor Frank Jotzo says, despite the issues experienced overseas, that approach is still the way to go.

FRANK JOTZO:The answer quite unambiguously if you ask the economics community, as well as if you ask the IPCC would be well - economic instruments: carbon pricing, emissions trading, carbon taxes are the centrepiece of cost-effective action.

JAKE STURMER: The Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who's trying to scrap carbon pricing, said in a statement that the Government was committed to taking strong and effective action to reduce emissions.

He said the Government would consider further targets in 2015, depending on what the rest of the world does.

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