OECD: Climate change solutions are affordable

Urgent action is needed on climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and the impact of pollution and toxic chemicals on human health - but solutions to these environmental challenges are available, achievable and affordable.

That is the message in a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international economic forum.

The 2008 Environmental Outlook, predicts that world greenhouse gas emissions will grow by 37% by 2030 if no new policy action is introduced, and premature deaths caused by ground-level ozone worldwide would quadruple.

An extra billion people will also be living in areas of severe water stress by 2030 and agricultural land use will need to expand by 10% to meet increasing demands for food and biofuels.

However, it is not all bad news – the OECD predicts that world GDP will almost double by 2030 and it would cost just over 1% of that growth to implement policies that can contain greenhouse gas emissions to about 12%.

“The OECD Environmental Outlook does not make for an uplifting read,” secretary general Angel Gurria said at the worldwide launch of the report in Oslo, Norway.

“It paints a grim picture of our planet in 2030 if no policy reforms are introduced.”

She added: “But the main message of the 2008 OECD Environmental Outlook is that solutions to the key environmental challenges are available, achievable and affordable, especially when compared to the expected economic growth and the costs and consequences of inaction.”

WWF said it was time for the world to heed the OECD’s call to action.

James Leape, WWF’s international director general, said: “When a body such as the OECD says that on a range of environmental issues we need to act globally and we need to act now, then it is clear that as communities, countries and companies, we need to roll up our collective sleeves and get on with it.”

Kate Martin

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