Agency: current climate proposals won't work

August 20, 2009 11:43:15 AM PDT
Reversing global warming will cost up to $185 billion (euro130 billion) a year before 2020 and require more action by world governments than currently pledged, an international environmental analysis group said Thursday. ClimateWorks Foundation said U.N. climate change talks would fail to reach a meaningful agreement with the proposals made so far, and that a new approach was needed.

"Climate change is a solvable problem, and the solution presents a major opportunity in terms of both economic growth and global development," said a report by the foundation's European branch. But it warned that "current commitments and actions are insufficient" to ensure deep cuts by 2050 in carbon dioxide emissions.

ClimateWorks provides economic and environmental analysis for the U.N. talks aimed at reaching a new accord to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases.

The United Nations is convening a climate change summit Sept. 22 in New York, and more talks will be held during the Sept. 24-25 summit of G-20 nations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The goal is to reach a final agreement at a December meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to limit the warming of the Earth's temperature to 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels.

The ClimateWorks report estimated governments would have to spend $135 billion to $185 billion (euro95 billion to euro130 billion) a year between 2010 and 2020 on measures to save energy and develop low-carbon technologies, particularly in transportation and construction.

This spending figure also includes up to $114 billion (euro80 billion) annually in the 2010-2020 period to help poor countries meet climate change commitments - one of many still unresolved issues in the U.N. talks.

The figure is near the cost estimate given by the World Wildlife Fund's Global Climate Initiative of $160 billion (euro112 billion). Others, however, have estimated fighting climate change will cost 1 percent of global gross domestic product - the equivalent of $400 billion (euro281 billion) annually.

The European Climate Foundation said Thursday today's technologies were enough to slash emissions of polluting particles to 35 gigatons a year by 2030 - half of what they would be projected to reach with no action taken. But it said urgent action was needed by both rich and developing nations.

"We do not have the luxury of time to enter into a global climate agreement where developed countries move first and developing countries follow," it said in a report.

If warned that emissions will still rise if current offers from Europe, the United States and Japan were adopted.

"The technologies required are largely available today, the policies needed are known, and the costs are manageable," the European Climate Foundation report said.

The U.N. talks leading up to the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit have been hobbled, however, by disagreement over who should be required to take action.

Poor countries want industrial nations take the lead in reversing global warming, while rich nations want developing ones also to commit to cutting emissions right away.

Rich countries agree the rise in the earth's temperature must be kept to 2 degrees - to prevent low-lying nations such as the Maldives from flooding - but they disagree among themselves on a time scale to reach that target.

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