NEW YORK — The risk of future harm from global warming is serious enough that nations have good reason to invest in steps to avert it, according to an international panel of economics experts.
Nations are justified in going beyond measures that they might do anyway and that pay for themselves, such as improving energy efficiency, said a new report from a panel convened by the United Nations.
The report, which was approved by participating governments, was finished Oct. 13 in Montreal. It comes from a working group in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Scientists are concerned that continued buildup of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases will promote global warming, which could lead to coastal flooding, disruption of agriculture and other effects. Carbon dioxide comes from burning fossil fuels.
The report said each country would have to choose its own best blend of anti-warming actions.
Among the possibilities the report suggested: changing regulatory policies and developing product standards to improve energy efficiency, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and encouraging use of alternative fuels.
Such steps might even allow industrialized countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 30 to 50 years at no cost or a profit, said one of the study's authors, Florentin Krauss of the International Project for Sustainable Energy Paths in El Cerrito, Calif.
Money saved by greater energy efficiency could help fund the development of energy technology that would create more savings and decrease carbon dioxide emissions, he said.