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You are here: Home / News / Climate change: immediate action is the best economic option

Climate change: immediate action is the best economic option

In the last decade, global greenhouse gas emissions have increased more rapidly than ever, and without global cooperation they will continue to rise. Reduction efforts will become increasingly challenging and costly the longer they are delayed, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 Image © Andrzej Bochenski/EEA ImaginAIR

The longer we delay in mitigating climate change, the narrower our options become. As the latest report notes, we will need concerted global efforts to both mitigate the problem and adapt.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

According to the IPCC WGIII report "Mitigation of Climate Change’ (part three of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report), global population growth and economic growth have outpaced the emissions-reducing effects of energy efficiency improvements and decarbonisation of energy sources.

Reversing this trend means emissions reductions should go beyond the Cancún Pledges, and requires major technological and institutional changes to roll out renewable energy and other low carbon technologies. Reducing deforestation is also part of this effort. The report also notes that it will be important to change behaviour, in order to to reduce the demand for energy and material consumption.

Immediate global action would improve chances of keeping average global warming below the internationally agreed target of 2° C increase since pre-industrial levels. Ambitious mitigation is projected to have a minimal effect on economic growth, reducing it by only approximately 0.06 percentage points a year.

If action is delayed, keeping warming below this level will depend on technologies to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which are unproven at a large scale and likely to be much more expensive than emissions reductions. The report also outlines additional benefits from prompt action, including improved air quality and energy security.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, said: “The longer we delay in mitigating climate change, the narrower our options become. As the latest report notes, we will need concerted global efforts to both mitigate the problem and adapt. In Europe, we have seen how emissions can be driven down – we need to boost these efforts everywhere, in Europe and beyond.”

While global emissions continue to rise, the trend in Europe is different - emissions have fallen over the last two decades. The European Union is already close to its target of 20 % emissions reduction by 2020. This success has been due to a combination of factors, including renewable energy policies, increasing energy efficiency and economic circumstances, according to EEA analysis. The European Commission has proposed a new target for 2030, to reduce emissions by 40 % of 1990 levels.

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