Working Group (WG) III’s Contribution to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4): Be Sure to Read the Fine Print

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of Working Group III (Mitigation), released on May 4, is available on the IPCC website, www.ipcc.ch.  In an effort to assist the public’s evaluation of the strong claims made in the SPM and the subsequent use of those claims by the media and public policymakers, this review evaluates WG III?s conclusions.

Be Sure to Read the Fine Print considers in detail the Summary for Policymakers’ claim that ” … studies indicate that there is substantial economic potential for the mitigation of global GHG emissions over the coming decades, that could offset the projected growth of global emissions or reduce emissions below current levels.” This claim is found to be unsupportable for many reasons, ranging from unrealistic assumptions about market behavior to invalid results arising from flaws in methodology. The analysis also finds that the costs of starting on a pathway to stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be higher than WG III estimates.

The Marshall Institute continues to emphasize that in the absence of sufficient data to set long-term climate change policy, we will need a flexible policy which can be adjusted as we learn more about both risks and costs. Climate policy should have a balanced approach, with both mitigation and adaptation playing roles, and should strike a balance between short-term costs and long-term risks.

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