Major emitting countries may have to join the EU's effort much earlier to avoid a temporary overshoot of the 2 degree target, but even if they joined only in 2030, the overshoot would be limited to roughly 0.2 to 0.4 degrees Celsius. The initial unilateral leadership could be achieved at little extra costs for the EU. Late-comers would have the benefit of lower costs while they delay action but would face higher transient costs once their turn to decarbonize comes.
"The crisis-stricken EU is asking itself whether it can still afford climate leadership" says lead-author Elmar Kriegler of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "If international climate action remains muddled, and if it takes a leader to rise above this, an EU initiative could make a big difference. A more than one degree reduction of global warming translates into a host of avoided climate damages." However, this strategy only works if the rest of the world eventually joins, because no single region will be able to combat climate change alone. "Leading by example needs to be convincing to other countries," Kriegler says. "Therefore, front runners best ensure success of their efforts by demonstrating the economic feasibility of strong emissions reductions and by making it attractive for others to join."
Additional costs for the EU are estimated to be low because it already has implemented significant climate and energy policies that are expected to reduce emissions by 30 percent in 2030. The study investigated EU frontrunner action in line with its roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy, including an emissions reduction of 40 percent in 2030 compared to 1990.
Carbon leakage is found to be small
Another reason why the costs for Europe are estimated to be low is that overall carbon leakage is projected to be small. One big fear of economies cutting greenhouse-gases is that energy-intensive industries migrate to parts of the world with much l
|Contact: PIK Press Office|
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)