Friday, 28 August 2009

Climate change will cost the world more than £300 billion, say scientists

The world will have to spend three times as much adapting to the effects of climate change such as flood, disease and deforestation than previously though, scientists have said.

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 6:00PM BST 27 Aug 2009

Oxfam staged an underwater family to highlight the risk of sea rises due to climate change
The UN originally said it would cost just £25 to £105 billion ($40-170 billion), or the cost of about three Olympic Games per year, from 2030 to pay for the sea defences, increase in deaths and damage to infrastructure caused by global warming.
However a new study by leading scientific body the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London estimated it will cost more than triple that amount per annum.
The report found that the previous estimates by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change failed to take into account various factors including the increase in storms in previous years due to global warming, a number of diseases caused by warmer weather and "ecological services" such as rainfall and cloud cover provided by the rainforest.
Professor Martin Parry, a former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the earlier estimate missed out key sectors such as energy, manufacturing, retailing, mining and tourism. He said the cost will be even more when the full range of impacts of a warming climate are considered such as human migrations and refugees.
“Just looking in depth at the sectors the UNFCCC did study, we estimate adaptation costs to be two to three higher, and when you include the sectors the UNFCCC left out the true cost is probably much greater,” he said.
Prof Parry said the UK alone would have to spend "several billion" on flood defence, rebuilding roads and upgrading houses against the heat.
"The UK alone is going to be several billion so the global numbers have to be more than the UN is currently talking about," he said.
Prof Parry was talking 100 days before more than 90 countries meet in Copenhagen for a UNFCCC conference on climate change. The meeting over two weeks is expected to come up with a new deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Rich countries are expected to make drastic cuts to carbon emissions in order to slow global warming but poorer countries are unlikely to agree to anything until they are confident the world will provide enough money for adaptation. At the moment the Governments of developed countries have only committed to around £60 billion per annum.
Prof Parry said a lot more money needs to be made available.
“The amount of money on the table at Copenhagen is one of the key factors that will determine whether we achieve a climate change agreement,” he said. “But previous estimates of adaptation costs have substantially misjudged the scale of funds needed.”
International aid agency Oxfam staged a stunt at London Aquarium to raise awareness of the meeting at Copenhagen.
Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive of Oxfam, said the photograph of an ordinary family under the water was intended to illustrate the risk of sea level rise if nothing is done to stop global warming.
“This light-hearted photo sends a very serious message – it is time for politicians to act in Copenhagen if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. Today the poorest people are being hit hard by extreme weather events and other climate shocks, it is for their sake that we must push for a fair deal in Copenhagen," she said.
Oxfam wants leaders in rich countries to commit to a 40 per cebt cut in carbon emissions by 2020 and earmark at least £93 billion a year to help poor countries adapt to the impact of climate change and reduce their emissions.