This policy brief summarizes the main policy-relevant results of the TOCSIN project.
The FP6 TOCSIN project has evaluated climate change mitigation options in China and India and the conditions for strategic cooperation on research, development and demonstration (RD&D) and technology transfer with the European Union. In particular, the project investigated the strategic dimensions of RD&D cooperation and the challenge of creating incentives to encourage the participation of developing countries in post-2012 GHG emissions reduction strategies and technological cooperation. This policy brief summarizes the main policy-relevant results of the project.
It is necessary to act soon and strongly if one wants to stay close to 2 degrees warming.
We investigated the possibility and consequences of a 3.5 W/m2 radiative forcing scenario. Under this scenario, the goal of limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial times may be reached, provided that the climate sensitivity is moderate (see Figure 1). However, a 3.5 W/m2 by no means guarantees that the 2 degree goal will be met if the climate sensitivity is found to be high. According to tolerable window simulations with the bottom-up integrated assessment model TIAM, the corresponding concentration of Long Lived GHGs is 535 ppm-CO2eq and 430 ppm for CO2 only, at the end of the century.
Figure 1: Greenhouse gases and global warming – simulations with TIAM
As regards the CO2 emissions, the 3.5 W/m2 target requires a 65% reduction of global emissions by the end of the century compared to 2000 emissions. 2050 CO2 emissions have to be reduced by 28% by 2050 according to TIAM, which is at the lower end of the range given by the IPCC (-30% to -60%). The cost, represented by the loss of surplus in TIAM, increases more than 4-5 fold with the 3.5 W/m2 target compared to a 4.5 W/m2 target. This illustrates the severity of the 3.5 W/m2 goal. The corresponding net present value of the cost represents 1.3% of the net present value of GDP over the period 2005 to 2100. To put this cost into perspective: real GDP is assumed to increase by 415% over the same period. Let's remind that some countries - for example, the Alliance of Small Island States - and experts - for example, the NASA Chief Scientist James Hansen - are campaigning for a more ambitious target of 1.5-1.7ºC.
As a 3.5 W/m2 scenario will require very dramatic emissions reductions, not just in future decades but almost immediately, TIAM simulations indicate that China and India will both need to begin to see large scale penetration of carbon capture and storage (CCS) by 2015-2020. Considering the lags associated between a decision to build a new power station and it coming online, the decisions needed for deployment by 2020 must be taken almost immediately in order to see any perceptible change in overall generation mix and to have an impact on near term emissions trajectories.
Currently, there is a single CCS project underway in China, while there are no serious proposals to date in India. This single project places China as a global leader because of delays in the implementation elsewhere. However, since China has averaged over 50GW of new coal capacity per year, China will need dozens of similar projects to be announced and completed within the next five to ten years to have any discernible impact on Chinese electricity generation and carbon dioxide emissions. India has announced plans for numerous «ultra mega» supercritical pulverised coal units of 4GW in the next few years, with no immediate plans for even a CCS demonstration project.
In addition, 3.5 W/m2 scenarios require major technology breakthroughs outside the electricity sector, which points to another major challenge. In simulations with the coupled GEMINI-TIAM bottom-up/top-down model, the limitation of the covered sectors of non-OECD countries to the electricity sector makes infeasible the limitation of the World radiative forcing to 3.5 W/m2. The smallest feasible radiative forcing would be 3.8 W/m2.