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The Role of Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases in Climate Change Mitigation: Long-term Scenarios for the 21st Century

The non-CO2 greenhouse gases have so far jointly contributed around 40 percent to overall global warming. In this paper we examine the role of non-CO2 greenhouse gases in meeting long-term climate change targets. For this purpose, we develop climate mitigation scenarios aimed at achieving long-term stabilization of global radiative forcing. We use the MESSAGE model for a thorough bottom-up representation of the six Kyoto greenhouse gases and corresponding mitigation technologies. This approach endogenizes energy feedback effects from mitigation of non-CO2 gases and takes into account the interplay and side benefits that exist across GHGs. We analyze two mitigation scenarios that stabilize global radiative forcing at 4.5 W/m2 as compared to pre-industrial times�one allowing only for CO2 mitigation and another with multigas mitigation. In addition, we also investigate a lower stabilization level of 3 W/m2 and look into the implications this has for abatement strategies. Our approach helps us to identify a portfolio of measures in the energy, industry and agricultural sectors for achieving a proposed climate target. We find that considering the full basket of GHGs improves the effectiveness of the mitigation portfolio resulting in significantly lower costs, especially in the short term. In the long run, the bulk of the emissions reductions are still found to come from CO2 and this effect becomes more pronounced under the more stringent climate target. This emphasizes the importance of a diverse mitigation portfolio that includes both CO2 and non-CO2 related abatement options in meeting long-term climate targets.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Modeling – Other; Energy and the Environment – Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases; Energy and the Environment – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes:
C59 - Econometric Modeling: Other
Q54 - Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General

Keywords: Non-CO2 greenhouse gases, Climate change policy, MESSAGE model, Long-term future

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-VolSI2006-NoSI3-9

Published in Multi-Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Climate Policy, Special Issue #3 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.