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International panel calls cost to fight climate change 'modest' but urges quick action

| Sunday, April 13, 2014, 6:48 p.m.

BERLIN — The cost of keeping global warming in check is “relatively modest,” but only if the world acts quickly to reverse the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the head of the U.N.'s expert panel on climate change said on Sunday.

Such gases, mainly CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels, rose on average by 2.2 percent a year in 2000-2010, driven by the use of coal in the power sector, officials said as they introduced the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's report on measures to fight global warming.

Without additional measures to contain emissions, global temperatures will rise about 5 degrees to 7 degrees by 2100 compared to current levels, the panel said.

“The longer we delay, the higher would be the cost,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said after the panel's weeklong session in Berlin. “But despite that, the point I'm making is that even now, the cost is not something that's going to bring about a major disruption of economic systems. It's well within our reach.”

The IPCC, an international body assessing climate science, projected that shifting the energy system from fossil fuels to zero- or low-carbon sources, including wind and solar power, would reduce consumption growth by about 0.06 percentage points per year, adding that that didn't take into account the economic benefits of reduced climate change. “The loss in consumption is relatively modest,” Pachauri said.

Secretary of State John Kerry called it a global economic opportunity.

“So many of the technologies that will help us fight climate change are far cheaper, more readily available and better performing than they were when the last IPCC assessment was released less than a decade ago,” Kerry said.

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