Assessing the economic cost of climate change | WWF

Assessing the economic cost of climate change

Posted on 30 October 2006
Gland, Switzerland — A UK government report on the economics of climate change presented today by UK Chancellor Gordon Brown and Sir Nicholas Stern, the lead author and a former World Bank chief economist, shows the enormous cost the world is facing if action against climate change doesn‘t speed up.

"The Stern Review is a wake-up call to the world,” says Hans Verolme, Director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Programme. “Failing to take action now will devastate our living planet. It’s the world's poor that will suffer most from droughts and other natural disasters exacerbated by climate change.”

“Now we learn the world's economy too will receive a serious blow if we do not act soon," Verolme added. "There are simply no excuses left to further delay strong action on climate change. This must translate in to practical actions that countries need to take right now.”

WWF is urging the 189 governments meeting next week in Nairobi, Kenya, to produce a clear plan for the Kyoto Protocol's post-2012 emission reduction targets. Ministers attending the international meeting also need to ensure that the least developed countries can access financial sources which have already been guaranteed to fund defense mechanisms against the impacts of climate change.

“The EU must show that its self-proclaimed leadership on climate change isn’t just hot air,” said Verolme. “The European Commission must ensure that the EU emission trading system finally starts to reduce emissions.”

“We need to keep global warming below 2°C because beyond that the changes of climate and weather will spin out of control," he stressed.

"The world can still prevent dangerous climate change but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. With political leadership and joint action we can make global emissions peak within 10 to 15 years. It is not a lack of solutions that is holding us back.”

• The danger threshold above which climate change is going to spin out of control has been set at 2°C warming of global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels (circa 1800). This value is based on the best available scientific research but is essentially a political decision. Among the countries who have accepted that threshold is the European Union at its Summit in spring 2005.
• Based on research such as the one presented to the UK’s Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change conference in 2005, the estimate is that CO2 emissions have to peak in 10 to 15 years from now to remain below the 2°C threshold.

• The 12th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change takes place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 6 to 17 November 2006. Included in this meeting is also the 2nd Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

For further information:
Brian Thomson, Press Officer
WWF International
Tel: +41 22 364 9562

Martin Hiller, Communications Manager
WWF Global Climate Change Programme
Tel: +41 22 364 9019