Climate change, and its economic impact was pushed onto the front burner at a seminar on Monday organized by the British Embassy in Argentina which the key speaker was Stephen Green, a senior economist at the UK's Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
Basing his presentation to a large extent on the UK government-ordered Stern Review, probably the most comprehensive overview of the economic impact of climate change ever produced, which was released in October last year, Green pointed out that unless the world can start reducing carbon dioxide emissions and stabilize them at around 550 parts per million, then by 2020 "there could be very high risks of severe economic impact". To achieve this however, emission rates by 2020 would have to be 25% lower than current rates. "Climate change could cause losses ranging between 5 and 20% of global GDP by 2020 unless mitigation costs of only 1% of GDP" is spent in the near future to stabilize emission rates, the economist warned. Despite the fact that the UK only accounts for some 2% of global emissions, Green admitted that the issue has become one of the top issues on the UK political agenda. In the UK at least this has led to a Climate Change Bill, currently being debated in Parliament, and a whole range of measures that will impact individuals and companies directly: from new houses with zero carbon emissions, to the doubling of obligations on suppliers to reduce carbon emissions. The increasing use of bio-fuels in vehicles, carbon capture and storage mechanisms and the use of renewable energy, EU target of 20% by 2020, were just some of the issues touched on at the seminar. Although local journalists focussed most of their questions on issues such as deforestation and the extending soy frontier, concern was also expressed about the lack of consensus at a global level in adhering to the Kyoto Protocol, especially by the United States. Green admitted that the UK government is actively pushing the issue in Washington, although he made no comment on the results obtained. By Peter Johnson - Buenos Aires Herald
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