Cost of curbing climate change not as high as assumed, says UN official

30 June 2008 – The price tag of addressing climate change is not as great as believed, the head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized today.

Global warming has resulted in an average temperature increase of 0.74 degrees Celsius in the last century and the sea level has climbed 17 centimetres, Rajendra K. Pachauri told reporters in New York.

“But the good news is that the cost of taking action is really not all that high,” he said.

One scenario assessed by the IPCC showed that limiting temperature surges to 2 to 2.4 degrees Celsius would cost at most 3 per cent of global GDP by 2030, “but that is really the upper limit as a matter of fact,” Mr. Pachauri noted.

He also stressed that the cost will actually be negative, which “means you might actually gain by taking some of those measures.”

Seizing the window of opportunity to take decisive action is key, said Mr. Pachauri, who was a co-laureate of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“We have up to 2015 by when we could allow emissions to increase,” he said, adding that the more rapid their decline, the more that severe impacts could be avoided.

Along with Lord Stern of Brentford, author of the Stern Review on the economics of climate change, Mr. Pachauri was one of the keynote speakers at the high-level segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which kicked off today at UN Headquarters in New York.

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