Green future affordable with deep CO2 cuts: study

OSLO Wed Dec 2, 2009 1:38pm EST

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OSLO (Reuters) - Prices of everyday goods such as clothing and food will barely rise if rich nations slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a study on Wednesday that concludes green lifestyles are affordable.

The study, in New Scientist magazine based on data for Britain from consultancy Cambridge Econometrics, said prices of only a few consumer goods dependent on fossil fuels would rocket, such as fuel-guzzling air travel.

"These results show that the global project to fight climate change is doable," the report quoted Alex Bowen, a climate policy expert at the London School of Economics, as saying. "It's not such a big ask as people are making out."

The model, assuming cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 80 percent by 2050 in line with goals by major developing states, projected that prices of food, clothing and cars would rise 1 percent by 2050 and tobacco, alcohol and electronics 2 percent. Phone bills would be unaffected.

But energy prices would jump, with a shift to renewable energies such as solar and wind power. Electricity prices would be up 15 percent and a return flight from London to New York would soar 140 percent.

"We can afford to go green," New Scientist said of the findings. "Electricity and other forms of energy make up only a fraction of the price of most goods," it said. "Other factors -- raw materials, labor and taxes -- are far more important."

"The energy that goes into producing food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco, for instance, makes up just 2 percent of the consumer price," it said, noting there were many uncertainties about the projection.

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