International Panel: Cost-effective Policies, Technologies Could Greatly Reduce Global Warming

A new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that the world community could reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) over the next several decades by exploiting cost-effective policies, as well as current and emerging technologies.

The IPCC released a report on May 4 that is "based on the most up-to-date, peer-reviewed literature on emissions modeling, economics, policies and technologies." The document lists ways in which governments, industry and the general public could together reduce the energy and carbon output of the global economy despite growing incomes and population levels.

"Climate change will touch every corner and every community on this planet, but climate change can touch on every facet of the global economy in a wealth of positive ways. Measures to reduce emissions can, in the main, be achieved at starkly low costs especially when compared with the costs of inaction. Indeed some, such as reducing emissions by 30 per cent from buildings by 2020, actually contribute positively to GDP," said Executive Director Achim Steiner of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The UNEP, together with the World Meteorological Organization, established the IPCC. "It is now up to governments to introduce the mechanisms and incentives to unleash the ingenuity and creativity of the financial and technological markets in order to realize these economic, social and environmental gains," he said.

According to "Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change," by adopting stronger climate change policies, governments could slow and reverse emissions trends and ultimately stabilize the level of greenhouse gases remaining in the atmosphere. The report addresses ways of reducing emissions from key sectors: energy supply, buildings, transport, industries, forests and wastes. The report also discusses the economic impacts of efforts to reduce GHGs.

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This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.