This time, world should heed OECD call to action on environment



Posted on 05 March 2008  | 
Paris: The OECD’s Environment Outlook to 2030, issued today, was welcomed by WWF as yet another compelling argument that the costs of inaction on the environment will far exceed the costs of action. 

The OECD Outlook is the latest - and at 520 pages one of the weightiest - in a run of reports from prominent economic institutions and commissions calling on governments and international institutions to face up to the seriousness and immediacy of global environmental problems.

“When a body such as the OECD says that on a range of environmental issues we need to act globally and we need to act now, then it is clear that as communities, countries and companies we need to roll up our collective sleeves and get on with it,” said WWF International Director General James Leape.

“It is sobering to think how much better off we would be today if the world, the wealthy world in particular, had heeded OECD's 2001 call to take action on many of these same issues. We should not make the same mistake again.”

James Leape said the OECD outlook should be commended for looking beyond the urgent challenge of climate change to other urgent issues of biodiversity loss, mismanagment of water resources and escalating health threats.  WWF also welcomed OECD’s call to prioritise action in the key sectors of energy, transport, agriculture and fisheries.

“The OECD outlook underlines both the magnitude of the largely self-inflicted threats we face and the urgency of acting effectively on them,” said James Leape. “It is rapidly becoming the case that it will be as hard to find a sceptical economist as it is now to find a sceptical scientist."

While generally supporting market liberalisation, the OECD noted that in the absence of “sound environmental policy and institutional frameworks” globalisation “can amplify market and policy failures and intensify environmental pressures”.

The OECD repeated its 2001 call for the removal of subsidies to environmentally harmful activities, with special mention of subsidies to fossil fuel use, agricultural production subsidies, fishing overcapacity subsidies and the subsidy and underpricing of damaging transport modes.

The OECD also repeated  that environment policy should not be just a concern of environment ministers, but has to be elevated into being a priority of central and economic policy making in particular.

“There is now no reason not to act," said James Leape. "The OECD outlook is emphatic that the policies and technologies to address urgent environment issues are available and affordable, that taking them will increase efficiencies and reduce costs and that the earlier we take action, the better the cost-benefit equation will be.”



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Severely degraded mangroves due to rising sea levels and clearing for commercial shrimp and salt farms, Thailand. These factors have contributed greatly to the destruction of large tracts of coastal mangroves in the country.
Severely degraded mangroves due to rising sea levels and clearing for commercial shrimp and salt farms, Thailand. These factors have contributed greatly to the destruction of large tracts of coastal mangroves in the country.
© WWF-Canon / Adam OSWELL Enlarge
WWF International Director General Jim Leape
© WWF-Canon / Jean-Luc RAY Enlarge

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