New report shows that existing climate solutions could cut global emissions by 25%

Lake Mendocino drought conditions 2013Imagine this: What if there were ways that would really and effectively fight climate change? Would government leaders embrace them?

It turns out that there already are 17 solutions out there that would let the world could cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 12 gigatonnes [2] in 2030. These are established and proven climate solutions – no new inventions required, and no vast amounts of capital necessary to have them work.

“Green to Scale”– a new report issued by the Finland-based think-tank Sitra, as well as a group of 11 world-leading institutions – has uncovered 17 existing, successful climate solutions that, if scaled up internationally, have the capacity to bring emissions down to levels that could limit and ultimately prevent climate change.

These low carbon solutions have been successfully implemented in both developed and developing countries and have resulted in reducing emissions and contributing to sustainable development, economic growth and have helped reduce poverty levels.

 The report’s 17 solutions fall under five categories:

  • renewable energy,
  • industry,
  • transport,
  • buildings and households,
  • forests and agriculture.

The ones that could reduce the most emissions are grid-connected solar (based on success in Germany), reduced deforestation (Brazil), wind power (Denmark), improved cook stoves (China), and reforestation and afforestation (the establishment of a forest or stand of trees in an area where there was no forest such as in Costa Rica).

The report found that the most effective solutions are also the more expensive ones for consumers and taxpayers. But efficiency measures that produced reduced energy bills would help partially offset some of the costs.  The aggregate annual cost of deploying all 17 solutions globally ranges from a maximum of $94 billion a year in 2030, to a net savings of $171 billion per year.

Projected sea level rise due to climate change

Projected sea level rise due to climate change

Mikko Kosonen, President of Sitra, said: “We already have climate solutions that are proven to work at the level of nations. How far can we go if we take these to a global scale? The Sitra report shows that these off-the-shelf solutions can make a big contribution to closing the emissions gap, without breaking the bank, and with no need for out-of-this-world inventions.”

Table 1. World’s Top 5 Proven Solutions for Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Climate Solution

Based on

Max. annual emissions   reductions in 2030 (Mt CO2e)

Max. annual cost in 2030 ($ bln)

Grid Solar




Reducing Deforestation




Improved Cook Stoves




Reforestation & Afforestation

Costa Rica



Wind Power




Here are the 5 climate solutions shown to deliver the greatest cost savings.

Table 2. Top 5 Most Cost-Effective Solutions for Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Climate Solution

Based on

Max. annual emissions reductions in 2030 (Mt CO2e)

Max. annual cost in 2030 ($ bln)

Appliance Efficiency




Vehicle Fuel Efficiency




Industrial electric motor efficiency




Reducing methane from fossil fuel production




Solar water heating




 In the coming months, Sitra and its partners will brief government officials on the results of the report at locations around the world .The first briefing starts today in Washington, D.C. followed by Rio de Janeiro on November 25. You can download the Sitra report and the underlying technical report, both of which were developed by Ecofys,

So the question remains: will our government leaders embrace and lead us or will they again squander this opportunity to take on and master climate change. Anyone want to lay odds on the answer?

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