Global warming to cost trillions

London, October 13:

Failure to take action to combat climate change will cause environmental catastrophe and cost the global economy $20 trillion a year by the end of the century, says the pressure group Friends of the Earth.

In a report based on research from more than 100 scientific and economic papers, the group says allowing global warming to continue will mean a temperature rise of 4C by 2100, causing economic damage worth up to eight per cent of global GDP.

The study coincides with research from the oil group Shell yesterday, which said the need to find solutions to climate change could create a GBP30b marketfor British business over the coming decade.

Shell’s chairman, James Smith, said, “We do have to tackle climate change and that’s a matter for government, companies and individuals as well, because the costs in the coming years from rising sea levels, from floods and extremes of climate will be too high.

“The cost-benefit equation of action to tackle climate change is favourable. That’s true not just for the UK but internationally as well,’’ he said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Both reports were released ahead of the British government’s own review of the economics of climate change carried out for the Treasury by Sir Nicholas Stern. That is expected to be published later this month and is likely to conclude that the costs of tackling climate change are far more modest than had been thought.

The report was compiled by economists at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University in Massachusetts in the US. Institute director Frank Ackerman said: “The climate system has enormous momentum, as does the economic system that emits so much carbon dioxide. Like a supertanker, which has to turn off its engines 25km before it comes to a stop, we have to start turning off greenhouse gas emissions now in order to avoid catastrophe in future.