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Research Challenges for Addressing Climate Change. Prof Ogunlade R Davidson Co-Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III Capacity Building in the South for Transitions to Sustainable Energy Systems: From Rural Energy to Carbon Credits

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Research challenges for addressing climate change

Research Challenges for Addressing Climate Change

Prof Ogunlade R Davidson

Co-Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III

Capacity Building in the South for Transitions to Sustainable Energy Systems: From Rural Energy to Carbon Credits

Capacity building in the Energy sector in Developing Countries (ICREP), University of Twente

Twente, Netherlands

10, April, 2008

Contents of lecture
Contents of Lecture

  • Climate Change Problem

  • AR4 Findings

    • WGI Findings

    • WGII Findings

    • WGIII Findings

  • Climate Change Research Challenges

    • Research in Climate Change Science

    • Research in Vulnerability and Adaptation

    • Research in Mitigation

  • Research in Cross-cutting Issues

    • Scenario development and modeling

    • Adaptation and Mitigation

  • Conclusions

The Climate Change is more a developmental than environmental Problem

  • Carbon dioxide and other GHGs from fossil fuel combustion started in 1800s and has continued

  • Concentration of GHGs causing warming of the earth

  • Major actions needed to reduce carbon emissions, hence low carbon society

The Evolution of environmental ProblemIdeas within the IPCC

IPCC Fourth Assessment Report

IPCC Third Assessment Report

IPCC Second Assessment Report

IPCC First Assessment Report

Climate +Impacts



Climate +Impacts


Climate +Impacts

Climate +Impacts











Continuing Focus

New Focus

Emerging Focus

Participants of AR4 environmental Problem

+2500 scientific expert reviewers

800 contributing authors

450 lead authors

+130 countries

Observations: All major GHG concentrations has increased since Pre-industrial

CO2 grew from 280 ppm in 1750 to 379 ppm in 2005

Methane grew from 715 ppb in 1750 to 1774 ppb 2005

N20 grew from

270 ppb in

1750 to 319

ppb in 2005

Scientific Observation since Pre-industrial

Global average temperature

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal

Global average sea level

Northern hemisphere

snow cover

Climate change is human induced since Pre-industrial

Consistent pattern of warming over land, oceans and over each continent (except Antarctica)

Observed impacts since Pre-industrial

Increasing sea level rise since Pre-industrial

  • Rate of global average sea level rise has risen from 1.8mm/yr from 1960-2003 to 3.1mm/yr from 1993-2003

  • Total sea level rise in 20th century was 17 cm

  • Contributions from thermal expansion (57%), melting glaciers & ice caps and polar ice sheets

  • Projected sea level rise of 18-59 cm by the end of the 21st century

  • No upper bound, risk of additional contributions from Greenland and Antarctica may be larger

Impacts by sector since Pre-industrial

Impacts by region since Pre-industrial

Systems and sectors since Pre-industriallikely to be especially affected

Particular ecosystems: tundra, boreal forest, mountain regions, Mediterranean-type ecosystems, tropical rainforests; mangroves and salt marshes; coral reefs; the sea ice biome

Water resources in some dry regions at mid-latitudes and in the dry tropics, due to changes in rainfall and evapo-transpiration, and in areas dependent on snow and ice melt

Agriculture in low-latitudes, due to reduced water availability

Low-lying coastal systems, due to threat of sea level rise and increased risk from extreme weather events

Human health in populations with low adaptive capacity

Regions likely to be especially affected since Pre-industrial

The Arctic, because of the impacts of high rates of warming on natural systems and human communities

Africa, because of low adaptive capacity and projected climate change impacts

Small islands, which are highly vulnerable to projected sea level rise

Asian and African megadeltas, due to large populations and high exposure to sea level rise, storm surges and river flooding

Projected impacts since Pre-industrial

  • Many species atincreasing risk of extinction

  • Decreased crop productivity and hundreds of millions of people exposed to increased water stress

  • Sea-level rise expected to exacerbate inundation, storm surge, erosion and other coastal hazards

  • Health-related problems affecting millions of people

Mitigation is possible, but should start soon since Pre-industrial

*Through deployment of a portfolio of technologies that are either currently available or expected to be commercialised in coming decades

  • Assumingappropriate and effective incentives are in place for development, acquisition, deployment and diffusion and addressing related barriers

  • But there are inertia in the system

    • Climate system inertia: even if GHG concentration were held constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming would occur in the next two decades at a rate of 0.1deg C per decade

    • Energy system inertia: delayed emission reductions lead to investments that lock in more emission intensive infrastructure and development pathways

Mitigation targets since Pre-industrial

Under most equity interpretations and for low to medium stabilization targets (450-550ppm CO2-eq), developed countries need to significantly reduce their emissions below 1990 levels:

  • 10-40% by 2020

  • 40-95% by 2050

Developing country emissions need to deviate below their projected baseline within the next few decades

Projected ghg and mitigation potential
Projected GHG and Mitigation Potential rising

  • Current climate change mitigation policies and related sustainable development practices (SRES), could increase between 25-90% between 2000 and 2030

  • Mitigation potential based on both bottom-up and top-down studies could offset the expected GHG emissions growth

  • All sectors could contribute though their potential differ in quantity and sectors

Estimates do not include non-technical options such lifestyle changes

Key technologies currently available rising

Efficiency; fuel switching; renewable (hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal and bio-energy); combined heat and power; nuclear power; early applications of CO2 capture and storage



More fuel efficient vehicles; hybrid vehicles; bio-fuels;

modal shifts from road transport to rail and public

transport systems; cycling, walking; land-use planning


Efficient lighting; efficient appliances and air-condition;

improved insulation ; solar heating and cooling;

alternatives for fluorinated gases in insulation and



Lower stabilisation level require global emissions to go down early
Lower stabilisation level require global emissions to go down early

  • Lower stabilization levels (550 ppm CO2-eq or lower) require major policies and government support:

    • RD&D efforts

    • Investments in new technologies

    • Tax credits

    • Standard setting

    • Technology development and transfer

    • Market creation

  • An effective carbon-price signal could realize significant mitigation potential

Key policies and measures down early

  • Financial incentives to stimulate technology development

  • Effective carbon price signal

  • Regulationsandstandards

  • Changes inlifestyleandbehavior

Climate Policy alone will not solve down earlythe climate change problem

  • Macro-economic policy:taxes, subsidies, other fiscal policies, structural adjustment

  • Trade policy: “embodied carbon”, removing barriers for low-carbon products, domestic energy sources

  • Energy security policy : efficient energy use, domestic energy sources (low-high carbon)

  • Access to modern energy:bio-energy, poverty tariffs

  • Air quality policy:clean fuel

  • Bank lending policies: lending for efficiency/ renewable energy, avoid lock-in into old technologies in developing countries

  • Insurance policy:Differentiated premiums, liability insurance exclusion, improved conditions for green products

Research in climate change science
Research in Climate Change Science down early

  • Climate data on observed changes in natural and managed systems, especially in developing countries

  • Analysing and monitoring changes in extreme events, including drought, tropical cyclones, extreme temperatures, frequency and intensity of precipitation

  • Effects of climate change on human and some natural systems

  • Attribution of observed changes to natural and human causes

  • Carbon dioxide emissions from land-use change and methane emissions from individual sources

Research in climate change vulnerability
Research in Climate Change Vulnerability down early

  • Impacts of climate change in the context of multiple stresses such as globalisation, poverty, and low–lying coastal areas.

  • Identify characteristics that reduce vulnerability

  • Identify characteristics that strengthens adaptive capacity

  • Identify characteristics that predispose physical, biological, and human systems to irreversible changes as a result of climate stresses

  • Identify the likely thresholds for natural ecosystems and possible feedbacks

Research on adaptation to climate change
Research on Adaptation to Climate Change down early

  • Explore the inter-linkages between adaptive capacity and sustainable development

  • Identify factors which contribute to these linkages

  • Policies that will enhance adaptive capacity

  • Develop strategies for climate proofing

  • The costs of climate change impacts and adaptation

  • Optimal strategies for implementing adaptation policies

Research areas in climate change mitigation i
Research Areas in Climate Change Mitigation (I) down early

  • Collection of sectoral data on emissions and specific processes for mitigation, especially on non-CO2 GHGs, black carbon and CO2 from various sources such as deforestation, decay of biomass and peat fires

  • Identify the inter-linkages between mitigation and sustainable development

  • Identify inter-linkages between mitigation and local/national policies (energy security, water, health, air pollution, forestry, agriculture)

  • Human dimensions and institutional arrangements in the mitigation of climate change

  • Lifestyle changes and climate change mitigation

Research areas in climate change mitigation ii
Research Areas in Climate Change Mitigation (II) down early

  • Development of politically feasible and economically attractive mitigation policies

  • Alternative development paths that promote development but also climate protection

  • Identify macro-indicators for sustainable development

  • Development of adequate methods to analyse costs and potentials of mitigation that cover all sectors, GHGs and regions/countries

  • The effect of domestic or sectoral mitigations on other countries or sectors (spillover effects)

  • Development and deployment of low carbon technologies and cleaner technologies

  • Improved understanding of how technology adoption of climate mitigation technologies

  • Relation between climate and non-climate policies and market mechanisms (investments, change in consumer preferences)

  • Human behavour and technology evolution

Cross cutting issues in climate change
Cross-cutting Issues in Climate Change down early

  • Linkages between adaptation and mitigation

  • Scenario development and modelling: issues to be considered are:

    • Representative concentration pathways

    • Future evolution of the world under different and wide-ranging assumptions about how societies, technology , economies will develop in future

    • Regional and local scales appropriate for adaptation analysis

    • Allow adaptation to be incorporated into climate change impacts

    • Abrupt climate impacts and extreme events

    • Different socio-economic pathways

Fitting in together in the long term down early

  • Global warming is equivocal and early action by all and governments are needed to reduce serious climate risks

  • Large number of technologies are available now and in the near future to offset the GHG emissions

  • Linking sustainable development with climate policies provide governments the opportunity to avert the possible climate threats

  • An effective climate change strategy will require the integration of development, equity and sustainability

  • Climate change could worsen the gap in distributional goods and services between and within generations as the poor and dis-advantaged will be the most affected

  • Significant R&D in climate change and related areas are needed

Thank you for your attention down early

Further Information


University of Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Tel. No. 232-22-223340

Fax. No 232-22-223270

Email: [email protected]