Policies to protect the global climate and limit global temperature rise offer the most effective entry point for achieving energy sustainability, reducing air pollution, and improving energy security, according to an article published in the latest issue of Nature Climate Change (Vol 1 Dec 2011). By adopting an integrated perspective on energy and climate policy, one that simultaneously addresses three of the key objectives for energy sustainability, major synergies and cost co-benefits can be realized.
The article, written by scientists at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria, finds that policies focusing on mitigating climate change have synergistic effects in other dimensions, as they necessarily involve massive improvements in energy efficiency and the rapid and widespread deployment of clean, secure energy sources, in particular renewables.
"A clear advantage of pursuing ambitious climate policies is that, in general, many of the technologies and clean fuels that they will motivate, will simultaneously reduce both carbon emissions and a suite of other air pollutants that are harmful to the health of humans and the environment," says lead author David McCollum of IIASA.
"Moreover, once stringent climate policies are in place, our calculations show some strong synergies. The additional costs of supplementary policies to achieve the air pollution and energy objectives are significantly reduced by several hundred billion dollars per year globally, or approximately one-half of one per cent of global GDP." (See Figure 1).
Cost savings of this magnitude represent large financial flows according to the authors, equating to approximately one third of today's investments into the energy system, and these offsets to climate protection policy would accrue globally, every single year, for several decades into the future.
The efficiencies identified in the study are likely
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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis