Choppy weather at climate meet

ECONOMISTS who sparked off a furore by valuing the life of a citizen of a developing country at a 15th of an Euro-pean or a us citizen's, faced flak at a meeting in Geneva of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc), held from July 24-28. The governments of India, China, Cuba, Brazil and Peru said the work "contained errors". The economists, who included R K Pachauri of Tata Energy Research Institute and David Pearce of University College, London, have spent the past 2 years attempting to estimate the level of resources the world's governments should plough into halting or slowing down the rate of global warming.

They have been trying to compare estimates of the cost of curbing green-house gas emissions (also called abatement costs) with the losses (social costs) that would result if the global climate recorded drastic changes. The overall regults presented at the meeting purported to show that the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be greater than 2 per cent-of the Gross World Product (GWP) while the losses would amount to only 1_5 to 2.0 per cent of the GWP.

One of the most surprising aspects of the report was that it showed that countries affiliated to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suffered twice the damages as a result of global warming as did the rest of the world, despite the fact that these countries constitute only 20 per cent of the world's population and they occupy less than 20 per cent of the world's land area.

"This distributional result reveals the absurd monetary bias of the methodology used by the economists, remarked Aubrey Meyer of a UK-based NGO.

Although the report accepted that many more lives would perish due to global warming in the poorer countries than the richer ones, they assumed that increasing economic growth in the poorer countries may make them the major emitters of the world.

In response, Richard Tol, a lead author of a section of the report says, "The task of the ipcc is to assess and review literature, and the literature is largely silent."

The Cuban delegation in fact, rejected the text outright, followed by,Brazil which lodged a formal protest saying that "there was a very bad feeling about it". They added that their government had already rejected it. A special meeting will now be organised in Montreal in October this year, to debate a revised report.