Warning on slow pace of greenhouse gas cuts

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The pace of progress in cutting global greenhouse gas emissions is “recklessly slow”, experts are warning today.

On current projections, global emissions will plateau at about 50 billion tonnes over the coming decades, putting the world on track for changes to the climate that would be way beyond the experience of modern civilisation.

As ministers join negotiators from around the world for UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, the experts warned that countries were acting as if change was too difficult and costly, and delay did not pose problems.

The paper by Lord Stern, who published the key review into the economics of climate change in 2006, and colleagues at the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said rigidity at the UN talks and the behaviour of negotiators was hampering progress, while vested interests remained powerful.

But they said accelerating the change to a low-carbon economy was feasible and crucial.

They also warned that in order to keep temperature rises to no more than 2C, considered to be the point beyond which the world would experience dangerous climate change, action to cut emissions would be needed from developing countries even if rich nations cut their greenhouse gases to zero.

But there was a deep inequity in that developed countries got rich on high-carbon growth and poor countries would be the worst hit by climate change, the experts said. They urged western nations to act radically on their emissions and to support developing countries’ move to low-carbon growth and cutting poverty.

The paper published today in Doha is the latest in a series of warnings to governments from scientists, experts and business leaders about the state of the climate and the slow pace of 
cutting emissions.