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Press release

Climate change: "be the change you want to see in the world", says IPCC chair

Environment - 27-03-2008 - 09:56
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If we want to bring about change, it will have to start in every corner of the globe, said Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change before an audience of MEPs on Wednesday. During a press conference held earlier, he said “any society that is a free rider is making a mistake (…) you cannot be a free rider anymore.”

Addressing the Climate Change Committee’s thematic session on engaging other actors in the global climate change effort, Mr Pachauri urged the EU to lead by example. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, he said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mr Pachauri also spoke about the economic costs of tackling climate change. Comparing two forecasts of global GDP growth until 2030, one taking into account the costs of implementing the necessary mitigation policies, the other presupposing “business as usual”, he argued that the cost of taking action is minimal. “The level of global prosperity”, he said, “would at best be postponed by a few months, a maximum of one year”. That, he remarked, “is not a high price to pay.”
Unsustainable development
Mr Pachauri stressed the need for industrialised countries to take into account the developing world's concerns on climate change policy. “Some poorer countries have had no responsibility for the increase in greenhouse gases”, he said, “and yet these are the countries affected most by the impact of climate change.”  "These issues and realities should be kept in mind, he said”. Climate change, he added, is only part of a greater problem: “that of unsustainable development.”
Sharing technology, preserving farms and forests
In a subsequent discussion with experts, Anders Wijkman (EPP-ED, SE) spoke of the urgent need for the EU to find solutions to "share technology, build capacity, train people and co-finance investments". It was also in this vein that Rubens Born, of Vitae Civilis, a Brazilian NGO, asked MEPs to begin assessing the EU's trade policy in terms of its impact on third countries' emissions. A lot, he said, depends on the type of technologies you transfer to the developing world. Mr Born then turned to the issue of deforestation and financial mechanisms. The EU needs subsidies to protect its farmers, its countryside and its agriculture, he said, “but we need subsidies to preserve our forests”.
The price of action versus the cost of inaction
Frank Ackerman, of the Stockholm Environment Institute, compared climate change policy to an insurance policy. "But how much should we be insuring ourselves for?" responded Linda McAvan (PES, UK). No one wants to spend too much on insurance, she said, "otherwise we'll end up not having enough to pay the mortgage". At some price of insurance, acknowledged Mr Ackerman, you would not pay for it. However, he added, "If we're looking at costs in the 1-3% GDP range, even in the 1-5% range", to prevent what he referred to as a global catastrophe, "that doesn't seem like a big deal".
Theme leader Justas Paleckis (PES, LT), who said "either we will tackle climate change or our planet will become impossible to live on", concluded by noting that, in order to do so, we will have to create "a completely new value system, a new pricing system, a new taxation system."
On Tuesday 1 April 2008, the Committee will vote on its interim report – drafted by Karl Heinz Florenz (EPP-ED, DE) – on “the scientific facts of climate change: findings and recommendations for decision-making”.
Temporary Committee on Climate Change
In the Chair : Guido Sacconi (PES, IT)
REF.: 20080325IPR24797