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The EU Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, has warned of the urgency of tackling climate change, saying that global leaders have one more chance to keep us out of the danger zone when they meet to thrash out a new international climate agreement in Copenhagen later this year.
Speaking at the European Policy Centre on Thursday, Mr Dimas reiterated that without deep cuts to carbon emissions, global warming is likely to pass the all-important 2C° cut off point by the middle of the century – 2C° above pre-industrial levels is widely accepted as the level of warming that will lead to unmanageable levels of catastrophic climate change. Average global temperatures are currently around 0.8C° above pre-industrial levels. Mr Dimas said that “The window of opportunity for avoiding dangerous climate change is closing fast” adding that “the Copenhagen agreement is almost certainly the world’s last chance to put global emissions onto a trajectory that can keep us out of the danger zone” and saying that “We know that failure to prevent dangerous climate change will cost far more than taking the necessary action – between 5% and a staggering 20% or more of global annual GDP in the long run, according to Lord Stern’s seminal study.” The Commissioner acknowledged that the difficult economic climate made up-front spending on carbon reduction a bitter pill to swallow but argued that the cost of inaction would be even less palatable saying “Far from being a reason to neglect the fight against climate change the economic recession – and the stimulus measures needed to counter it – have turned out to be a golden opportunity to accelerate investment in building the low-carbon economy that is needed to bring climate change under control”.