Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Big Carbon Cuts: Scary, but Doable

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Big Carbon Cuts: Scary, but Doable

Article excerpt

This June, Group of Eight leaders confirmed the need for "substantial global reductions" in the man-made emissions of greenhouse gases that are dangerously warming the earth. By 2050 global emissions will have to be at least 50 percent below their level in 1990.

Such radical calls are crucial to prevent a climate catastrophe. They also make countries nervous. The reason? They're worried carbon reductions will hurt economic growth.

But this is no longer an excuse. As the 2006 landmark Stern Review has underlined, it is climate change itself, not action to prevent it, that risks crippling our economies.

And here's the good news. The European Union has already demonstrating the effectiveness of a cap-and-trade program. The United States should see its appeal - after all, America developed it to tackle sulfur dioxide pollution.

An ambitious new United Nations treaty containing binding reduction commitments for all developed countries is essential if we are to prevent climate change from assuming devastating proportions that will wreck our economies and put the lives of tens of millions of people at risk over the coming decades. For the new agreement to take over seamlessly from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, negotiations must be launched in Bali, Indonesia, and completed by late-2009.

To stabilize global warming at the "relatively safe" level of no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial temperature, worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases will need to stop increasing within 10 years.

As a first step in reaching this target, developed countries must take the lead by committing under the new treaty to reduce their collective emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The advanced developing countries must also contribute by slowing their emissions growth.

These are without doubt enormous challenges, but our analysis shows that deep emissions cuts are both technologically feasible and economically affordable. …

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