OSLO | Wed Jan 2, 2013 1:03pm EST (Reuters) - An agreement by almost 200 nations to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 will be far more costly than taking action now to tackle climate change, according to research published on Wednesday.
Quick measures to cut emissions would give a far better chance of keeping global warming within an agreed U.N. limit of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times to avert more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.
"If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2 degree target," said Keywan Riahi, one of the authors of the report at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria.
The study indicated that an immediate global price of $20 a ton on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, would give a roughly 60 percent chance of limiting warming to below 2C.
Wait until 2020 and the carbon price would have to be around $100 a ton to retain that 60 percent chance...
"The window for effective action on climate change is closing quickly," wrote Steve Hatfield-Dodds of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia in a separate commentary in Nature.