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Friday, February 1, 2008

Global Warming to cost $20 trillion: United Nations

Global warming could cost the world up to US $20 trillion over two decades for cleaner energy sources and do the most harm to people who can least afford to adapt, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns in a new report.

Ban's report obtained by the news agency provides an overview of UN climate efforts to help the 192-nation General Assembly prepare for a key two-day climate debate in mid-February. That debate is intended to shape overall UN policy on climate change, including how nations can adapt to a warmer world and ways of supporting the UN-led negotiations toward a new climate treaty by 2009. The treaty, replacing the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012, could shape the course of climate change for decades to come. The Kyoto pact requires 37 industrial nations to reduce greenhouse gases by a relatively modest 5 per cent on average. Much of the focus has been on the United States, the only major industrial nation to reject the treaty, and on fast-developing nations such as China and India. Many are looking to next year, when a new US president takes the White House. The leading contenders in both political parties favor doing more than the voluntary approaches and call for new technologies.

In his 52-page report, Ban says that global investments of $15 trillion (euro10.13 trillion) to $20 trillion (euro13.5 trillion) over the next 20 to 25 years may be required "to place the world on a markedly different and sustainable energy trajectory.'' Today, the global energy industry spends about $300 billion (euro202.6 billion) a year in new plants, transmission networks and other new investment, according to UN figures. In December, under the auspices of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 186 nations that attended a climate meeting in Bali, Indonesia, agreed on a ``Bali Roadmap'' of principles to craft a successor to the Kyoto treaty. Last year, a Noble Prize-winning U.N. network of climate and other scientists warned of rising seas, droughts, severe weather and other dire consequences without sharp cutbacks in emissions of the industrial, transportation and agricultural gases blamed for warming. That network, called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, advised that emissions should be reduced by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. In his report, Ban warned that global warming would probably affect women (and children) more than men.

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