OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría has welcomed the call by ministers in France, Germany and the UK for Europe to adopt a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels by 2020. The EU already has legislation in place to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020 and has offered a 30 percent reduction, conditional upon other developed countries committing to comparable emissions reductions and developing countries contributing as well.
Current targets will not limit temperature change to 2°C
Currently it is promising that many countries are willing to commit to mitigation action but the pledged targets and actions as submitted to the Copenhagen Accord are insufficient when compared to the emission reductions suggested by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to keep global temperature change limited to 2°C.
According to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2007), a trajectory of 25 percent to 40 percent reduction from 1990 emission levels by 2020 for Annex I countries, combined with substantial deviation from baseline by major developing and emerging economies, would be consistent with a pathway to stabilisation with a medium likelihood (i.e. a chance of at least 50 percent) of limiting global average temperature increase to below 2°C.
Ambitious targets are economically rational
The costs of these pledges are limited compared to expected economic growth, and substantially less than most estimates of the costs of inaction. Ambitious global action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions is thus not only necessary, but also economically rational.
Climate policies also provide important environmental benefits and have the potential to generate fiscal revenues that are sizable, when market instruments are used. This is especially attractive in current times of financial hardship. Ambitious climate policies are an essential part of a broader green growth strategy that aims at a strong, fair and clean global economy.