Monday, October 30, 2006

More Argument for Cutting CO2 Emission.

Some may think this is just another of many reports on Global Warming, but this one, commissioned by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer [the British equivalent of the finance minister] is the first comprehensive study to quantify the economic aspect of global warming.
The author is former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern and his report is as much about economics as it is about politics.

According to the study: the cost of doing nothing is estimated at a loss of 5% to 20% of global GDP while cutting CO2 emissions (by at least 25% below current levels which would stabilize them between 450 and 550ppm) would cost 1% of global GDP.

As The Economist suggests, this report is also very political as it is an attempt at convincing those who accept that climate change is happening, but say that trying to do anything about it would be a waste of money.

This argument is heard occasionally in Europe and frequently in America, where, for added potency, it is combined with the notion that European attempts to tax carbon are part of a conspiracy by socialists determined to undermine the American way of life.

Blair has embraced the results of the report and has seized the opportunity to persuade the United States, as well as fast-growing developing nations China and India, to sign up to a new global framework to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

"Unless you have an international framework which has not just Europe, but America and China and India in it then there will be a limit to the degree to which your company is going to get fully behind this," said Blair.(Reuters)

If there is scientific consensus, there does not seem to be economic consensus, especially among conservatives in the US. The paradox is that the more we wait the more our current life style is likely to be threatened, the very thing, those conservatives claim they want to protect. Denial, denial, denial… it’s like putting your head in the sand.

Thankfully, public opinion in America is changing:

Polls suggest that three-quarters of Americans feel that global warming is a serious problem and a majority of citizens feel environmental protection should take priority over economic growth. (BBC)

This comes right when the UN released its own report showing that emission of greenhouse gases continue to rise and that cuts are needed.

According to the report by Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. climate treaty secretariat,

Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Monaco and Sweden were "relatively close" to goals under the Kyoto protocol. But while the European Union as a whole was 0.6 percent below 1990 levels, the United States was 15.8 percent above 1990 levels. (IHT)

[see full report here and a summary of its findings here]

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