The Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC Working Group III, “Mitigation of Climate Change”, aims to answer essentially five questions relevant to policymakers worldwide:
- What can we do to reduce or avoid climate change?
- What are the costs of these actions and how do they relate to the costs of inaction?
- How much time is available to realise the drastic reductions needed to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere?
- What are the policy actions that can overcome the barriers to implementation?
- How can climate mitigation policy be aligned with sustainable development policies?
A description of mitigation options for the various societal sectors that contribute to emissions forms the core of this report. Seven chapters cover mitigation options in energy supply, transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste management, with one additional chapter dealing with the cross-sectoral issues. The authors have provided the reader with an up-to-date overview of the characteristics of the various sectors, the mitigation measures that could be employed, the costs and specific barriers, and the policy implementation issues. In addition, estimates are given of the overall mitigation potential and costs per sector, and for the world as a whole. The report combines information from bottom-up technological studies with results of top-down modelling exercises. Mitigation measures for the short term are placed in the long-term perspective of realising stabilisation of global average temperatures. This provides policy-relevant information on the relation between the stringency of stabilisation targets and the timing and amount of mitigation necessary. Policies and measures to achieve mitigation action, both at national and international levels, are covered in chapter 13; this is additional to what is included in the sector chapters. The link between climate change mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development has been further elaborated in the relevant chapters of the report, with one chapter presenting an overview of the connections between sustainable development and climate change mitigation.
After two scoping meetings to establish possible content, the formal assessment production process got underway in 2003 with the approval of the report outline by the IPCC at the Panel’s 21st session. Soon after this, an author team of 168 lead authors (55 from developing countries, 5 from EIT countries and 108 from OECD countries) and 85 contributing authors was formed by the Working Group III Bureau, based on nominations from governments and international organisations. Thirty-six per cent of the lead authors came from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The IPCC review procedure was followed, in which drafts produced by the authors were subject to two reviews. Thousands of comments from a total of 485 expert reviewers, and governments and international organisations were processed. The processing into new drafts was overseen by two review editors per chapter, who ensured that all substantive comments received appropriate consideration.
The Summary for Policymakers was approved line by line, and the main report and Technical Summary were accepted at the 9th session of the IPCC Working Group III held in Bangkok, Thailand from 30 April to 4 May 2007.
Production of this report was a major enterprise, in which many people all around the world delivered a wide variety of contributions. This input could not have been made without the generous support from the governments and institutions involved, which enabled the authors, review editors and reviewers to participate in this process. To them, our thanks.
We are particularly grateful to the governments of Germany, Peru, China and New Zealand, who, in collaboration with local institutions, hosted the crucial lead author meetings in Leipzig (October 2004), Lima (June 2005), Beijing (February 2006) and Christchurch (October 2006).
Various countries and institutions supported expert meetings and stakeholder consultations that have contributed to the depth and scope of the report, namely:
- Adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development in La Réunion (supported by the government of France)
- Emissions scenarios in Washington DC (supported by the US Government)
- Input by industry representatives in Tokyo (supported by the Japanese government) and Cape Town, South Africa (co-sponsored by ESKOM), and
- Input from environmental NGOs, intergovernmental organisations, research organisations and members of the International Energy Agency and its technology network in Paris (in cooperation with the IEA).
Throughout the process, the Working Group III Bureau – consisting of Ramón Pichs Madruga (Cuba), R.T.M. Sutamihardja (Indonesia), Hans Larsen (Denmark), (up to May 2005), Olav Hohmeyer (Germany, from June 2005), Eduardo Calvo (Peru), Ziad H.Abu-Ghararah (Saudi Arabia, up to September 2005), and Taha M. Zatari (Saudi Arabia, after September 2005), Ismail A.R. Elgizouli (Sudan) – delivered constructive support and continuous encouragement.
The success of this report is, however, fully based on the expertise and enthusiasm of the author team for which we are grateful. We would also like to express our appreciation of the expert reviewer inputs. Without their comments, the report would not have achieved its current quality level. Our review editors had a similar critical role in supporting the author team in dealing with the comments.
The assessment process was supported by the Technical Support Unit, financed by the government of the Netherlands. The following persons provided support, advice and coordination: Leo Meyer, Peter Bosch, Rutu Dave, Monique Hoogwijk, Thelma van den Brink, Anita Meier, Sander Brinkman, Heleen de Coninck, Bertjan Heij, David de Jager, John Kessels, Eveline Trines, Manuela Loos (editing support), Martin Middelburg (layout), Rob Puijk (webmaster), Ruth de Wijs (coordination of copyediting), Marilyn Anderson (index) and many more from the secretariats of MNP and ECN in the Netherlands.
Finally, we would like to thank the IPCC secretariat in Geneva in the persons of Renate Christ (Secretary of the IPCC), Jian Liu, Carola Saibante, Rudie Bourgeois, Annie Courtin and Joelle Fernandez for their continuous support throughout the process.
Co-chairs, IPCC Working Group III