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Ear to the Ground

Clean Energy Rollout Would Shave Fraction Off Economic Growth

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Posted on Apr 13, 2014

Photo by Takver (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A landmark U.N. study published Sunday says catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards, concluding that “the ditching of fossil fuels is eminently affordable,” The Guardian writes.

The new report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns that carbon emissions have soared over the past decade and are now growing at almost double the previous rate. But rapid action could still limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, “the internationally agreed safety limit, if low-carbon energy triples or quadruples by 2050,” the paper said.

The Guardian reports:

The authoritative report, produced by 1250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, dismisses fears that slashing carbon emissions would wreck the world economy. It is the final part of a definitive trilogy that has already shown that climate change is “unequivocally” caused by humans and that, unchecked, it poses a grave threat to people and could lead to lead to wars and mass migration.

Diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report concluded. Furthermore, the analysis did not include the benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which could outweigh the costs. The benefits include reducing air pollution, which plagues China and recently hit the UK, and improved energy security, which is currently at risk in eastern Europe after the actions of major gas-producer Russia in Ukraine.

… “It is actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living,” said Professor Jim Skea, an energy expert at Imperial College London and co-chair of the IPCC report team. “It is not a hair-shirt change of lifestyle at all that is being envisaged and there is space for poorer countries to develop too,” Skea told the Guardian.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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