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Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change

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Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change

Meeting internationally discussed targets for limiting atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated increases in global average temperatures will require a major departure from business as usual in how the world uses and produces energy, finds this new report from the national Research Council. This report from the America’s Climate Choices suite of studies recommends that a U.S. policy goal be stated in terms of a budget for cumulative greenhouse gas emissions over the period 2012 2050. With only so much to “spend” during this period, the nation should act now to: (1) take advantage of key near-term opportunities to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to create new and better emission reduction opportunities for the longer term; (2) create a national policy framework within which actors at all levels can work toward a common goal; and (3) develop policy mechanisms durable enough to persist for decades but flexible enough to adapt to new information and understanding.

The report concludes that a carbon pricing system (either cap-and-trade, taxes, or a combination of the two) is the most important step for providing needed incentives to reduce emissions. There is also a need, however, for complementary policies aimed at ensuring rapid progress to: increase energy efficiency; accelerate the development of renewable energy sources; advance full-scale demonstration of nuclear power and carbon capture and storage systems; and retrofit or replace existing emissions-intensive energy infrastructure. Research and development of new technologies that could help reduce emissions further in the long term also should be strongly supported.

Limiting the Magnitude of Climate Change, Report in Brief

The members of the Panel on Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change are:

Mr. Robert W. Fri (Chair), Resources for the Future
Dr. Marilyn A. Brown (Vice Chair), Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Doug Arent, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Ms. Ann Carlson, University of California, Los Angeles
Ms. Majora Carter, Majora Carter Group, LLC
Dr. Leon Clarke, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Mr. Francisco de la Chesnaye, Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.
Dr. George C. Eads, CRA International
Dr. Genevieve Giuliano, University of Southern California
Dr. Andrew J. Hoffman, University of Michigan
Dr. Robert O. Keohane, Princeton University
Dr. Loren Lutzenhiser, Portland State University
Dr. Bruce McCarl, Texas A&M University-College Station
Dr. Mack McFarland, DuPont Fluoroproducts
Ms. Mary D. Nichols, California Air Resources Board
Dr. Edward S. Rubin, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Thomas H. Tietenberg, Colby College (Retired)
Dr. James A. Trainham, III, Sundrop Fuels Inc.