Findings Show How Global Greenhouse Gas Emission Cuts Can Work

NEW YORK, Oct. 8 (UPI) — New findings by two U.S.-based research organizations show global greenhouse gas emissions, widely seen behind current climate change, can be reduced to meet targets set for 2020 if world communities set their mind to concerted policy change and action.

The U.N. Foundation, a public charity, and the Center for American Progress, a non-partisan research institute, unveiled an analysis of what they see as the core elements of the fight to combat climate change.

In a joint presentation UNF President Timothy E. Wirth and CAP President John D. Podesta said 75 percent of the emission cuts needed to be in place by 2020 could be achieved through energy efficiencies, greater uses of renewable energy, conservation of depleting forests and a more sensible and sustainable use of land.

The measures could offer up net savings of $14 billion, they said.

The findings were released amid mixed messages from the preliminary round of U.N. climate talks in Thailand before the scheduled climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Global improvements in energy efficiency are currently estimated to be growing at a rate of 1.25 percent, said the study.

If the rate is pushed up to 2 percent by 2015 that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent below the rate likely to be prevailing in 2020. That reduction would represent a net saving of $98 billion by 2020, the study said.

Likewise, if electricity generated through renewable sources is increased to the point where it represents a fifth of the world’s total electricity production in 2020 that would mean a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by that year.

The findings also calculate that halving the rate of tropical deforestation at the same time as improving land use can lead to a 50 percent cut in emissions by 2020. The study recommends more sustainable forestry and land management and greater attention to how and where livestock is raised.

The report calls for introducing programs of national adaptation in the least developed and vulnerable developing countries to better prepare populations for a more sustainable approach to use of resources.

“A new international agreement is urgently needed to address climate change,” said Wirth. “It must include emission reduction targets by developed countries, nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries, financial assistance to developing countries, and technology cooperation.”

He said the core elements of a new agreement should include areas where all countries, both developed and developing, can take immediate action to reduce emissions. He said such action would also help economic growth, energy security and public health.

Wirth said the findings showed how “very substantial progress can be made toward the emissions cuts we need over the next 10 years at very low cost — in fact, with a net benefit to the global economy overall.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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