Bangkok: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 on 29April.
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 The Associated Press earlier this month, that suggests reducing emissions could cost less than 3% of annual global economic activity, environmental activists said.
“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 expensive.”
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.
On Monday, 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 heat-trapping gases.
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 sector.
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 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. Even a 2-degree-Celsius (3.6-degree-Fahrenheit) rise could subject up to 2 billion people to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20-30% 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 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
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 wind.
“We believe that you can reduce emission by 50% by 2050 using renewable energy technology and energy efficiency,” said Stephanie Tunmore, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace International.
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.
Damages from unabated climate change might eventually cost the global economy between 5-20% of GDP every year, according to a British government report. The upbeat cost assessment runs counter to the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, which has rejected the mandatory cuts stipulated by the Kyoto Protocol because it fears that doing so would slow U.S. economic growth too much.