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EU could afford to lead international climate action
Date:3/19/2014

ower environmental standards, or that a decrease of fossil fuel use in one region reduces world market prices for coal, oil, and gas and hence drives up consumption elsewhere. Both effects can negate some of the frontrunner's efforts. However, the study found this effect to be small, with leakage rates around or smaller than 20 percent in all but one model. The leakage rate measures the fraction of excess emissions in the rest of world compared to the emissions reduction by the front runner.

If China joined the EU in leading the way to a global climate regime, early action could reduce emissions until 2030 by a multiple of what the EU alone would achieve, slightly increasing the probability of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. However, China's short term mitigation costs would be significantly higher than for the EU. "The case for early action by China would likely need to be made more broadly, particularly including co-benefits in terms of reduced air pollution," says Kriegler. "Moreover, late-comers face a clear trade-off between lower short term costs and higher transitional challenges, and this would also hold true for China."

A lock-in into fossil fuel infrastructure could waste billions

The transitional challenge that late-comers face when joining a global climate regime is due to the difficulty of rapidly elevating efforts from a low to an ambitious level, according to the study. "The risk of being locked into fossil fuel infrastructure is a major argument against delayed action," says co-author Keywan Riahi of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. This refers for instance to newly built coal fired power plants. "Today's energy planners are making investment decisions in the order of hundreds of billion dollars, which can turn into stranded assets once climate policies are introduced. This is why delays are costly, besides increasing the risks that stringent climate objectives might get out
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Contact: PIK Press Office
press@pik-potsdam.de
49-331-288-2507
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Source:Eurekalert

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