Although most of the technologies needed to reduce emissions and prevent the worst damage from climate change are well understood, many of them are not in widespread use.
For instance, emissions from transport could be vastly reduced by using more energy-efficient vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles, and improving public transport. Emissions from power generation could be cut by using more wind farms and solar energy, and improving the efficiency of fossil fuel power stations. Buildings could be made more efficient.
Ensuring these technologies are brought into use, and that the world’s carbon levels are not exacerbated by the destruction of forests, is likely to require changes to government policies around the world, including taxes, regulatory regimes and subsidies.
Friday’s report, intended to be used by policymakers, does not prescribe remedies. However, the report notes: “Government support through financial contributions, tax credits, standard setting and market creation is important for effective technology development, innovation and employment. Transfer of technology to developing countries depends on enabling conditions and financing.”
The report refers to the “notable achievements” of the Kyoto protocol, particularly in setting up an international market in carbon dioxide. But the authors said carbon prices would have to be between $20 and $80 by 2030 in order to stabilise carbon dioxide at a safe level. The wide price range reflects the uncertainty of such policies.
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