To answer this question, the LIMITS
(Low climate impact scenarios and the implications of required tight emission control strategies) project investigated whether current climate change mitigation and adaptation policies were on track. The consortium conducted a rigorous assessment of what a stringent climate policy entails and what is needed to overcome the major challenges.
For the first time, a series of models designed to study the interplay between the economy, the energy and land-use sectors and the climate (known as integrated assessment models) joined forces. The aim was to investigate the consequences of implementing post-2020 climate agreements in all major economies.
Supported by local experts, these global models revealed the consequences of future climate, environmental and energy legislation for the major economies of China, Europe, India, Japan and the United States. The research conducted by LIMITS significantly increased understanding of the different challenges and opportunities faced by different countries when deciding to combat climate change. By comparing different policy scenarios, LIMITS was able to provide the most comprehensive model-based assessment of the regional implications of managing climate change.
The project established that investments into low-carbon and more efficient energies need to be increased to about USD 1.1 trillion annually. This increase would close a gap of some USD 600 billion per year. A USD 60 billion per year gap was also identified for investments into clean energy research and development projects.
Project partners assessed that other critical factors such as emission reduction rates, technology penetration rates and the phasing out of certain technologies are happening fast enough. In addition, the researchers determined that climate policies are likely to lower global energy trade, reduce energy imports, decrease the rate of resource depletion and increase the diversity of energy systems. This future situation will be of particular benefit to India, while the United States may forgo some opportunities to export fossil fuels.
Additional work focused on the interplay between climate change and air pollution, as well as the role of land use in climate change mitigation. The information gained will empower decision makers to better assess the costs and benefits of aggressive climate targets and how best to implement policies.