2008 OECD Environmental Outlook - How much will it cost to address today's key environmental problems?
05/03/2008 - "Solutions to the key environmental challenges are
available, achievable and affordable, especially when compared to the
expected economic growth and the costs and consequences of inaction",
OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said at the worldwide launch of the 2008 OECD Environmental Outlook in Oslo, hosted by Norway's Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg.
"The Outlook is an impressive body of work. It combines hope for the
future with an urgent call for action today. It offers important
guidance for decision-makers and integrates economic and environmental
analysis", said Prime Minister Stoltenberg.
The 2008 OECD Environmental Outlook is a pathbreaking report that
marries economic and environmental projections for the next few decades
and simulates specific policies to address the key challenges. It
identifies four priority areas where urgent action is needed: climate
change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and the impact on human
health of pollution and toxic chemicals.
Economic-environmental projections show that world greenhouse gas
emissions are expected to grow by 37% to 2030 and by 52% to 2050 if no
new policy action is introduced. To meet increasing demands for food
and biofuels world agricultural land use will need to expand by an
estimated 10% to 2030; 1 billion more people will be living in areas of
severe water stress by 2030 than today; and premature deaths caused by
ground-level ozone worldwide would quadruple by 2030.
"Countries will need to shift the structure of their economies in
order to move towards a low carbon, greener and more sustainable
future. The costs of this restructuring are affordable, but the
transition will need to be managed carefully to address social and
competitiveness impacts, and to take advantage of new opportunities",
Secretary-General Gurrķa said. (read the complete speech)
The 2008 OECD Environmental Outlook projects that world GDP will
almost double by 2030. And the OECD policy simulation shows that it
would cost just over 1% of that growth to implement policies that can
cut key air pollutants by about a third, and contain greenhouse gas
emissions to about 12% instead of 37% growth under the scenario without
OECD recommends use of policy mixes, and to keep the costs of action
low these should be heavily based on economic and market-based
instruments. Examples are the use of green taxes, efficient water
pricing, emissions trading, polluter-pay systems, waste charges, and
eliminating environmentally harmful subsidies (e.g. for fossil fuels
and agriculture). But more stringent regulations and standards (e.g.
for transport and building construction), investment in research and
development, sectoral and voluntary approaches, and eco-labelling and
information are also needed.
Mr. Gurrķa said that technological developments will also contribute
to the solution but that the generalised application of breakthrough
technologies poses important challenges in the area of intellectual
property rights which will have to be confronted.
The Outlook identifies ways to share the cost of policy action
globally. Developed nations have been responsible for the majority of
greenhouse gas emissions to date, but rapid economic growth in emerging
economies - particularly Brazil, Russia, India and China - means that
by 2030 the annual emissions of these 4 countries together will exceed
those of the 30 OECD countries combined. Fair burden-sharing and
distributional aspects will be as important as technological progress
and the choice of policy instruments.
"We must be aware that getting it right in the field of the
environment is not only about what to do and how to do it. We also need
to address the question of who will pay for what. The global cost of
action will be much lower if all countries work together", Mr. Gurrķa
To obtain a copy of OECD's Environmental Outlook to 2030 journalists are invited to contact the OECD Media Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00). The report can be purchased in paper or electronic form through the OECD's Online Bookshop. Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online version via SourceOECD.
For further information, journalists should contact Helen Fisher of the OECD Media Division (tel + 33 1 45 24 80 97).
The highlights of the report are available at www.oecd.org/environment/outlookto2030.