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Green Policies Better Sooner than Later, Group Says

Putting off tackling environmental problems will only cost the world more dearly later, according to a new study released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday, March 5.

Man walking across cracked ground in Spain

Water shortages caused by climate change are one of the problems set to worsen

The Paris-based organization OECD which represents 30 of the world's richest nations, said that green measures were likely to slow global growth by only 0.03 percent a year.

"This is not a lot to pay," said Angel Gurria, OECD head, in a 520-page Environmental Outlook presented in Oslo, adding that this was similar to the cost of an insurance policy.

"The consequences and costs of inaction would be much higher," said Gurria.

Unchecked environmental damage could mean four billion people would be without adequate water supplies by 2030, and leave the world facing heat waves, droughts and floods by the end of the century.

Mounting evidence in favor of green measures

Giant panda in tree

Giant pandas are among the species threatened by environmental destruction

The study adds to evidence that curbing global warming is affordable. Last year, the UN Climate Panel said that measures to tackle climate change would cost between 0.06 and 0.1 percent of world gross domestic product a year to 2030.

The report focuses on several key areas including climate change, the reduction in biodiversity, water shortages, illegal logging and the impact of pollution and toxic chemicals on human health.

"If no new policy actions are taken, within the next few decades, we risk irreversibly altering the environmental basis for sustained economic prosperity," the report said.

Green taxes, emissions trading and polluter-pay systems were among suggested measures. It also recommended revamping the most damaging industries, such as energy, transport, agriculture and fisheries.

Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, whose country contributed funding for the report, said the study underlined the need to " find solutions where we are able to combine economic development with the environment."

The report projected that inaction would lead to a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent by 2030.

Green package could cut emissions by over 20 percent

Coal fired power station

The OECD is calling for an overhaul of the energy market

The study suggested a hypothetical policy package, including a 50 percent cut in farm subsidies, a 16.50 euro ($25) per tonne tax on emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide phased in by region, new biofuels, measures to cut air pollution and improved sewerage systems. If this package were implemented, the study said emissions would be slashed to around 13 percent.

To combate climate change, the OECD said "developed countries will need to work closely with emerging economies -- especially Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa."

If nothing is done, greenhouse emissions from China, India, Russia and Brazil alone would "grow by 46 percent to 2030, surpassing those of the 30 OECD countries combined," it said.

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