The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has released its 2008 Environmental Outlook.
Without new policies, the world risks irreversibly damaging the environment and the natural resource base needed to support economic growth and well-being, according to the report. But the Outlook finds that tackling climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and the health impacts of pollution is both achievable and affordable.
The report projects that world GDP will almost double by 2030. And the OECD policy simulation shows that it would cost just over one percent of that growth to implement policies that can cut key air pollutants by about a third, and contain greenhouse gas emissions to about 12 percent instead of 37 percent growth under the scenario without new policies.
While developed nations have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions to date, rapid economic growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China means that by 2030 the annual emissions of these four countries together will exceed those of the 30 OECD countries combined, the report finds, making fair burden-sharing and distributional aspects as important as technological progress.
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 such as green taxes, efficient water pricing, emissions trading, polluter-pay systems, waste charges, and eliminating environmentally harmful subsidies.