United Nations: Even as the world is faced with the growing threat of climate change, it already has the means to build a more sustainable world and avert widespread disruptions and destruction if there is a will to act, Dr R.K. Pachauri, the head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), said Tuesday.
Failing to take action now will only add to the costs of dealing with the consequences of climate change later, he warned.
Speaking at the inauguration of the UN Climate Change Summit, which was attended by more than 120 heads of state or government, he said, "We have the means to limit climate change and build a better future."
Cataloging the increase in factors impacting climate change like the rise in surface temperatures and the level of greenhouse gases unprecedented in the past 800 000 years, he said there was a small window of opportunity act. "If we want a chance to limit the global rise in temperature to two degrees celsius, our emissions should peak by 2020. If we carry on with business as usual our opportunity to remain below the two-degree limit will slip away well before the middle of the century."
The international consensus is that an increase of more than two degrees celsius in global mean temperature above the preindustrial level is considered the tipping point at which dangers to the environment intensify and could become irreversible.
He said, "We are told that limiting climate change will be too expensive. It will not. But wait until you get the bill for inaction. There are cost for taking action, but they are nothing compared to costs of inaction."
Many solutions are available to limit the impact of climate change while continuing economic development, said Pachauri, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace prize as the head of IPCC and is also the director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi.
"While some technologies need additional development, many are already available. Renewable energy is a real option. Nearly haf the worlds new electric generating capacity in 2012 came from renewables. We also have tremendous opportunity to improve energy efficiency. And we can reduce emissions further by stopping deforestation."