Cost of saving climate surges as world delays: Report

• January 2, 2013
Pollution of Industry

Creative Commons: Gregory Wake, 2008

An agreement by almost 200 nations to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 will be far more costly than taking action now to tackle climate change, according to research published on Wednesday.

Quick measures to cut emissions would give a far better chance of keeping global warming within an agreed U.N. limit of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times to avert more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

“If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2 degree target,” said Keywan Riahi, one of the authors of the report at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.

“It was generally known that costs increase when you delay action. It was not clear how quickly they change,” he told Reuters of the findings in the science journal Nature based on 500 computer-generated scenarios.

It said the timing of cuts in greenhouse gases was more important than other uncertainties – about things like how the climate system works, future energy demand, carbon prices or new energy technologies.

The study indicated that an immediate global price of $20 a tonne on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, would give a roughly 60 percent chance of limiting warming to below 2C.

Wait until 2020 and the carbon price would have to be around $100 a tonne to retain that 60 percent chance, Riahi told Reuters of the study made with other experts in Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia and Germany.

Read more: Reuters Alertnet >>


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