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Cutting GHG Emissions Cheaper Than Expected

Global warming can be limited to two degrees Celsius at a cost of around half a per cent of global GDP, according to a new analysis of greenhouse gas emission abatement options by consultants McKinsey released on Monday.
In an updated version of a global emission abatement curve developed with energy firm Vattenfall two years ago (EE 18/01/07, McKinsey calculates the potential emission reductions and costs of more than two hundred mitigation actions across ten sectors and 21 regions from now to 2030.

The authors conclude it is technically and economically feasible to cut carbon emissions by 35 per cent by 2030 versus 1990 levels, amounting to a 38-gigatonnes (Gt) reduction. Achieving this would cost E200-300bn annually, below McKinsey's previous predictions and around half of UK economist Nicholas Stern's estimate (EE 30/03/07 and EE 30/10/06

McKinsey identifies three priority abatement categories where the cost of action is under E60 per tonne of carbon. First, 14 Gt of carbon could be saved through energy efficiency improvements in vehicles, buildings and industrial equipment, largely at a net profit (EE 14/02/08

Another 12Gt could be saved through the application of low-carbon energy technologies such as wind, nuclear, and hydropower, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and biofuels, the consultants say. These technologies could provide 70 per cent of global electricity in 2030 versus 30 per cent in 2005, they estimate.

Changes in forestry and land-use could save another 12Gt, according to the report. On top of these three main avenues for emission reductions, the authors suggest another 9Gt could be won through behavioural change, albeit at higher cost than E60 per tonne.

But capturing the full potential for emission reductions will be a "major challenge" say the authors (EE 12/11/08 It will require global cross-sectoral action and commitment, a strong policy framework, and a start on all this in 2010, they say.

Follow-up: McKinsey report plus reactions from WWF
and Carbon Trust
Genon K. Jensen
Executive Director
Health & Environment Alliance, formerly EPHA Environment Network (EEN), 28 Boulevard Charlemagne, B-1000 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 234 3641 (direct) , Fax : +32 2 234 3649

Genon K. Jensen | DUGI e.V.
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