The third and final report this year by the UN’s intergovernmental climate
panel is set for release on Friday. Now undergoing a line-by-line review
by governments meeting in Bangkok, the report is expected to show that
the cost of doing nothing about global warming is much higher than the
cost of taking action.
“Mitigation of Climate Change,” written by the Third Working Group of
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, follows a report on
the state of climate science in March and a report on the impacts of
climate change released in April.
At the opening of the Bangkok meeting on Monday, IPCC Chairman Dr. R.K.
Pachauri said the mitigation report “assesses not only options related
to the long term covering this entire century, but also a range of
issues covering short and medium term horizons extending up to 2030.”
The third IPCC report analyzes emissions, emission projections,
mitigation options in the short and longer term, and options for
policies, measures and instruments to limit global warming.
A broad mix of stakeholders contributed to the third IPCC report,
including representatives from business and industry and members of
Ahead of the IPCC report, the global conservation organization WWF has
released its own report showing that stopping climate change is possible.
The WWF report details 15 positive climate actions the group has helped
to manifest. They range from a new law in Thailand that encourages the
clean production of biofuels to a credit card in the Netherlands that
converts purchases into funding for climate restoration.
“Taking action brings real savings and other benefits to consumers and
businesses while preventing dangerous climate change,” says Hans
Verolme, director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Program. “The planet
is running a fever and people are working with WWF to cool it – global
warming is costing us dearly already but by acting now we can avoid
One of the WWF’s 15 climate actions is a new carbon footprint credit
card issued by Rabobank, the largest commercial bank in the Netherlands.
The card is now used by 1.1 million customers.
A specially developed calculation method is used to convert the total
carbon dioxide, CO2, emission of purchases into a cash amount, says the
bank. For example, filling up with gasoline equals a greater emission of
CO2 than buying flowers. The bank then makes a contribution to climate
projects to combat the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
The card helps offset the full life-cycle carbon footprint of all
purchases through Gold Standard energy projects, a quality standard for
sustainable energy projects in developing countries developed by WWF.
All underlying activities from the different partners are validated by
an external verifier.
“Taken this way, offsetting is cutting edge in two ways,” says Barbera
van der Hoek, head of the Dutch WWF climate and energy program. “In the
Netherlands it helps people to become aware of the climate change impact
of their own buying behavior. In developing countries Gold Standard
projects help build local sustainability and a positive change of the
In Thailand, as part of a coalition to trigger a renewable energy boom
in Thailand, and counter CO2 emissions and other pollution from coal
power plants, WWF worked for an amendment to the Very Small Power
The National Energy Policy Council approved the WWF-sponsored amendment
last September. It allows private renewable power generators producing
between one and 10 megawatts to sell their electricity into the grid
system. For the first time this opens the Thai electricity grid for
decentralized and small-scale power producers, of which many are likely
to tap renewable sources.
“Thailand has a long history of fighting coal projects, especially by
communities in the Lampang Province against the Mae Moh Coal Fired Power
Plant. Impacts on the local communities, especially through pollution
and public health, have been so obvious,” says Wanun Permpibul,
renewable energy expert in Thailand. “The very small power producers
could help expand power supply and prevent new coal fired power plants.
This helps limit climate change and also protects public health and the
Some of the 15 ways to stop climate change are sweeping, encompassing
major industries in many countries.
The European Union Emission Trading System is the world’s first and sets
a precedent for the upcoming systems in other countries. It covers all
heavily polluting industries, including the power sector, cement, paper,
steel, and glass sectors, about 46 percent of EU emissions.
“A crucial part of the solution to CO2 emissions from dirty coal power
production is the European Emission Trading Scheme,” says Dr. Stephan
Singer, head of WWF’s European Climate and Energy Program. “WWF is
pushing for strong pollution limits and clear incentives to invest in
renewables, energy savings and low polluting natural gas. Only tough
limits on CO2 will force the utilities to replace dirty coal plants.”
Another way to help stop climate change is a simple set of standards for
green energy products in Europe that WWF helped to establish in 2004.
When consumers want to switch to green energy providers they can look to
the Eugene Standard for an effective set of criteria to ensure that
green energy products are good for the climate and for the environment.
“Eugene was born out of the necessity to discern between real green
power that replaces carbon emissions, and power with fewer emissions but
other negative impacts on the environment,” says Jean-Philippe
Denruyter, president of Eugene.
Some of the 15 ways to stop climate change are regional, and some are
Homes account for 27 percent of the carbon emissions in the United
Kingdom. Through its One Million Sustainable Homes campaign, WWF has
been working to bring sustainable, energy efficient homes from the
fringes to the mainstream across the UK. In December 2006, the UK
Government announced that all new homes will be zero carbon by 2016.
Some 200,000 new homes are being built each year in the UK, but they now
lag behind best practice in Europe and only a handful are built to zero
carbon standard. Still, WWF is confident that many developers will rise
to the challenge of delivering zero carbon before the regulatory date of
Not all of the 15 ways to stop climate change are take programs that
last for years. One effort was only an hour long.
On March 31, 2007 a symbolic action of concern about climate change was
undertaken in Sydney. Under the banner of “Earth Hour” citizens and
businesses in the city turned off their lights for an hour.
This hour of action resulted in an increase in public awareness about
the impact of electricity use on global evening. The action also led to
a 10.2 percent drop in energy usage across the central business district
according to the energy retailer, Energy Australia.
“The overwhelming support for Earth Hour from Sydneysiders and from many
communities across the country has amazed us and shows the willingness
of both business and individuals to start cutting emissions,” said
WWF-Australia Head of Communications Andy Ridley.
Finally, WWF says that in its view, the Kyoto Protocol is a success.
This international treaty under the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change requires 35 industrialized countries and the EU to reduce their
emission of six greenhouse gases an average of 5.2 percent of 1990
emissions during the five year period 2008 to 2012.
The annual UN climate change conference in Montreal in 2005 agreed that
a new phase should start in 2013. Negotiations about the shape of this
new phase are expected to start in December, at the UN conference in Bali.
“The Kyoto Protocol has successfully established the global legal
architecture for real emissions reductions,” says Verolme.
“The house stands but it needs many improvements: much deeper emissions
restrictions, commitments from, and help for, rapidly developing
countries, and aid for the least developed and most vulnerable parts of
While the United States, Australia, and now Canada have opted out of the
Kyoto Protocol on the grounds that it would be bad for their economies,
some experts say the cost of doing nothing would be higher still.
The Stern Review on the economics of climate change, published by the
British government in October 2006, showed that doing nothing about
climate change can cost the world’s economies up to 20 percent of Gross
Domestic Product, while the cost of climate action stands at one percent.