The costs of cutting greenhouse gases and who will pay for doing
it are likely to be the key issues at a major UN-backed climate
change meeting of scientists and diplomats in the Thai capital this
week, participants said Sunday.
Some of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters like the US
and Australia and top oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia will try
to water down language in a draft report, obtained by media earlier
this month, that suggests reducing emissions could cost less than 3
percent of annual global economic activity, environmental activists
"Cost will be on everybody's mind," said environmental
protection group WWF International's Martin Hiller. "Changing the
energy system is costly but we can still afford to do it. The cost
for doing nothing is staggering and could be up to 20 times more
Developing countries are likely to demand that richer countries
help them adapt to warming global temperatures which are expected
to cause widespread flooding, droughts and rising sea levels.
"If you take roads or electricity lines or buildings, they will
all have to be adapted to climate change," said Hiller.
Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a network
of more than 2,000 scientists, will open a five-day meeting in
Bangkok, Thailand, to finalize a report on how the world can
mitigate rising levels of carbon dioxide, methane and other
The draft report, which will be amended following comments from
dozens of governments, says emissions can be cut below current
levels if the world shifts away from carbon-heavy fuels like coal,
invests in energy efficiency and reforms the agriculture
Two previous IPCC reports this year painted a dire picture of a
future in which unabated greenhouse gas emissions could drive
global temperatures up as much as 6 C by 2100. Even a 2 C rise
could subject up to 2 billion people to water shortages by 2050 and
threaten extinction for 20 percent to 30 percent of the world's
species, the IPCC said.
The third report makes clear the world must quickly embrace a
basket of technological options already available and being
developed just to keep the temperature rise to 2 C.
Making buildings more energy-efficient, especially in the
developing world, through better insulation, lighting and other
steps, could also lead to significant cuts as would converting from
coal to natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy such as
"We believe that you can reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2050
using renewable energy technology and energy efficiency," said
Stephanie Tunmore, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace
International. "Hopefully, energy efficiency will come out strongly
in the report because that is really important. For the most part,
it's a negative cost."
Over the next century, the report says, such technology as
hydrogen-powered fuel cells, advanced hybrid and electric vehicles
with better batteries, and carbon sequestration whereby carbon
emissions are stored underground will become more commercially
The US delegation at the Bangkok meeting is expected to argue
that the report's cost estimates are unrealistically low and that
the expense of reducing greenhouse gases currently would be
difficult at present for most nations to bear.
The damage from unabated climate change might eventually cost
the global economy between 5 percent and 20 percent of GDP every
year, according to a British government report last year.
(China Daily via agencies April 30, 2007)