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Slowing global warming: options for greenhouse gas substitution

Discussion paper, 52 pages
PDF  8019IIED.pdf (1.83 MB)

Substitution of existing technologies giving rise to greenhouse gases is one of the several options for controlling global warming. The following paper provides a framework for evaluating the cot-effectiveness of the the various substitution prospects for the major sources of greenhouse gases, notably, fossil fuel combustion, methane production and CFC emissions. We consider both replacement technologies e.g. substituting a greenhouse gas technology with a non-greenhouse gas technology, and reduction technologies, e.g. substituting a greenhouse gas technology with an alternative technology that reduces emissions. Relevant data and country examples from around the world are examined, including analysis of developing countries, where appropriate. Significant substitution technologies are beginning to achieve market penetration on a large-scale. Once market penetration is assured, costs may fall rapidly due to economies of scale and improved reliability. Costs also vary significantly from country to country and within countries. However, our analysis has been limited by the available data to comparing the direct resource costs of different substitution options. A full cost analysis should include any social costs, including environmental externalities, and constraints, such as land availability, and the impacts on cost-effectiveness of changes in policy. A general equilibrium approach including all these cost interactions should be pursued.

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