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EU could save €60 billion by cutting carbon

Date
15 July 2014
EU could save €60 billion by cutting carbon

LONDON: The EU stands to lose €190 billion - a net welfare loss of 1.8% to current GDP - due to climate related damages, unless it prioritizes effective climate action, new analysis reveals.

A new report by the EU Commission’s Joint Research Center provides the most compelling evidence yet on the need for an ambitious 2030 climate and energy package.

Focusing on nine different sectors: agriculture, river floods, coasts, tourism, energy, droughts, forest fires, transport infrastructure and human health, the report offers a comprehensive overview of the impact of unrestrained climate change on the EU.

If the economic and political bloc ignores the risk global warming presents and allows the rise in temperatures to reach 3.5°C, European citizens could have to face €190 billion (US$259 billion) a year in economic losses. Losses to agriculture are estimated at €18billion (US$24.5 billion), while coastal costs could rise to €42 billion (US$ 57 billion).

Furthermore, the research is unequivocal about the threat to human health posed by unfettered global warming. Of the €190 billion welfare losses, €120 billion (US$163 billion) stems from premature mortality and the analysts predict heat related deaths could soar to 200,000 annually under a business-as-usual scenario.

While southern and south central Europe is the most vulnerable to climate induced welfare losses, the report’s authors stress the impact will be felt far beyond the region which is directly affected.

LOW CARBON EU

The Joint Research Center is keen to emphasize that by adhering to the 2°C warming cap, the total bill would be reduced by at least €60 billion (US$81 billion), while 23,000 lives could be saved from premature deaths. The researchers also argue that committing to the 2°C limit could significantly improve quality of life for EU citizens by reducing air pollution.

 “No action is clearly the most expensive solution of all. Why pay for the damages when we can invest in reducing our climate impacts and becoming a competitive low-carbon economy?" Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action commented.

"Taking action and taking a decision on the 2030 climate and energy framework in October will bring us just there, and make Europe ready for the fight against climate change”, she continued.

Recently, European climate advisors to business and government leaders convened by the Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leaders, called for a low carbon energy transition, arguing future energy security is contingent on action now.

The EU energy system has also been subjected to evaluation by both Accenture and Ernst and Young, with both companies finding significant benefits to decarbonization.

Ernst and Young assert that such a strategy could save European households up to €474 billion on energy costs over the next 40 years, and recognize that moves to sustainable energy will reduce the total fuel import bill by €518-550 billion annually.

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By Alana Ryan

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