Stabilization Levels: Other Cost Estimates

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There are a number of alternative methods for controlling GHG concentrations and factors that could affect the costs of climate stabilization.  Some alternative methods include Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), Biomasss Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECS), peaking or overshoot profiles, etc.  These alternative methods are suggested to lower the cost of climate stabilization.  The risk of these methods proving to be insufficient generally precludes them from being considered “silver bullet” solutions to climate stabilization.

            Some other factors that could affect the costs of climate stabilization are population growth, economic growth, equitable considerations, emissions trajectories, etc.  The higher population growth, the costlier climate stabilization tends to be.  The recent slowdown in economic growth has likely slowed the rate of emissions, making climate stabilization somewhat less costly.  This is offset by larger than expected economic growth prior to the recession, which moved the emissions baseline upward, thereby making it more costly to lower emissions to achieve climate stabilization.

            Some cost estimates call for particular strategies for climate stabilization, without falling neatly into any other categories.  Those cost estimates are also collected in this section.

            There are a number of factors that influence the cost estimates.  The treatment of these factors may vary across studies, making it difficult to compare cost estimates directly using different studies.  Cost estimates depend upon the assumed baseline emissions (or BAU).  They also depend upon whether the targeted stabilization level is CO2 only or multi-gas.  Much more cost savings is seen from climate policies controlling all greenhouse gases versus climate policies only controlling CO2.  Correctly calculating the Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) of the various GHGs reduces costs across various stabilization levels, albeit very slightly.  Induced technological change can also change the cost estimates.  A cost estimate also depends on the time profile of emissions reductions, and whether the cost of immediate reductions is offset by the (presumably) resulting lower cost of future reductions.  The number of regions and energy sources included in the model can also affect the final cost estimate.  Furthermore, the assumed terrestrial response (e.g., when the earth becomes a carbon source instead of a carbon sink) can also affect the cost estimate.  Some studies might not be comparable to other studies because their assumptions differ; therefore, caution is warranted when comparing the results of different studies.