Price tag for climate change runs into billions

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REUTERS

Global changes in diet, shifting towards vegetarianism from meat, would also help.

Sao Paulo - Damage from climate change could cost Latin American and Caribbean countries $100 billion per year by 2050 if average temperatures rise 2C (3.6F) from pre-industrial levels, as is seen likely, a new report said on Tuesday.

The region accounts for only 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but it is considered particularly vulnerable to impact from climate change due to its geographic location and reliance on natural resources, the report commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank said.

The development bank released the study days before Brazil hosts the UN's Conference on Sustainable Development, the Rio+20 on June 20-22.

The collapse of the coral biome in the Caribbean, the disappearance of some glaciers in the Andes and some degree of destruction in the Amazon basin were climate change damages highlighted in the report.

For example, the net loss of agricultural exports in the region due to climate change would be between $30 billion and $52 billion in 2050.

“Losses of this magnitude would limit development options as well as access to natural resources and ecosystem services,” the report said.

But the development bank pointed out that the cost of helping countries adapt to the effects of climate change would be minor relative to the price tag for potential damage.

It estimates that around 0.2 percent of GDP for the region, or about 10 percent of the costs of physical impacts, would be needed to support climate adaptation.

Latin America has had recent success reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from changes in land-use policies, such as the reduction of emissions related to deforestation.

According to the report, the region's greenhouse gas emissions fell 11 percent from the start of the century to 4.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2010.

While progress has been made in preserving land that would be vulnerable to clear cutting for agriculture or other uses, the IDB said more is needed from the region. The transport and power sectors are expected to increase their share of greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050, the report said.

These two sectors alone could contribute per year 2 billion tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalence) in the region, according to the report.

This could push total greenhouse gas emissions in the region to 7 billion tons (7.7 tons) by 2050, or 9.3 tons (10.3 tons) per capita of carbon dioxide.

“The reductions anticipated in land use change emissions will be more than compensated by increases in emissions from other sectors,” said the report.

The IDB said the region should aim for no more than 2.2 tons (2.0 tons) of emissions per capita.

To achieve that goal, the institutions behind the analysis said it would be necessary to invest around $110 billion per year, or 0.6 percent of projected Latin American GDP in 2050.

“The report concludes that a pathway that promotes land-use policies stringent enough to achieve zero net emissions ... by 2030, combined with efforts to eliminate the carbon footprint in the power and transport sector by 2050 (along with other actions), would achieve the 2 tonnes per capita.” - Reuters

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