Climate change in the 21st century could bring on a global economic disaster akin to the Great Depression, warns a new report from the British government. The study concludes that it would cost less to take strong action against climate change than to react to changes as they unfold.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has long championed taking steps to combat climate change. He commissioned the latest report a year ago, after hosting the G8 summit of industrial leaders in Scotland.
Monday, Blair said the analysis is the most important report about the future ever published under his leadership. The economic disaster foreseen in the report is due to the likelihood of crop-killing droughts, the spread of tropical disease and coastal flooding as sea level rises.
Most climate change is driven by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, which puts carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The report's analysis finds that to avert potential disaster, greenhouse gas emissions will need to be reduced by a staggering 80 percent.
Sir Nicholas Stern, who is the primary author of the 700-page report, says it makes economic sense to get started now. He says the first step is to convince governments around the world, including the reluctant United States, that they should share a sense of urgency about global warming.