In a report presented in Oslo, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development suggested a range of measures to address what it said were the greatest global environmental challenges through 2030: climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and the impact on human health of pollution and toxic chemicals.
"It's not cheap. It is affordable, but also it is considerably less onerous for mankind and for the economy than the alternative of inaction," OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria told reporters.
The suggested measures would cost just over 1.0 percent of the predicted global gross domestic product in 2030, meaning world wealth would grow on average 0.03 percentage points less per year over the next 22 years, the organisation said.
If nothing is done however, global greenhouse gas emissions could rise by over 50 percent by 2050, while "one billion more people will be living in areas of severe water stress by 2030 than today, and premature deaths caused by ground-level ozone worldwide would quadruple by 2030," the OECD report said.
"It has a positive cost-benefit result. Regardless of the ethical, of the moral, of the social, of the political consequences, simply looking at it from the business and the economic point of view, it is a better idea to start right away focusing on the environment," Gurria insisted.
The OECD said its proposed investment would allow the world to slash "key air pollutants by about a third," and significantly limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The group placed a special emphasis on the need to rein in carbon dioxide emissions through special taxes and increased emission trading.
"We know the enemy. It is called carbon. We have to fight the enemy and we have to put a high price on the carbon," Gurria said.
The OECD also suggested measures like increasing waste charges and implementing "more stringent regulations and standards" in the most environmentally harmful industries, like energy, transport, agriculture and fishery.
The organisation also insisted on the importance of international coordination and cooperation.
"If we do not have everybody, and that includes every single developed country but also Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Indonesia etc, it will obviously not work," Gurria said.
By 2030, Brazil, Russia, India and China's combined annual emissions "will exceed those of the 30 OECD countries combined," the group said.
© 2008 Agence France Presse