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Europeans Could Save Planet for $3 a Day: Study

Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS - Europeans could help cut climate warming
emissions to much safer levels for just 2 euros ($3) each per day, but
they would also have to cut back on driving and meat eating, a report
said Tuesday.

Other long-term changes would include using the train instead of
flying for journeys of under 1,000 km, said the report by the Stockholm
Environment Institute, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe

The study targets a European cut in climate-warming emissions such
as carbon dioxide to 40 percent below 1990 levels over the next decade.

"It's not just about investment, it's also about lifestyle changes,"
said FOEE campaigner Sonja Meister. "This report shows one pathway that
would see air travel in the EU cut by 10 percent by 2020 and travel in
private cars by 4 percent."

"Travel by rail would rise by 9 percent, and meat consumption would be reduced by about 60 percent," she added.

The European Union has pledged to cut emissions of carbon dioxide,
the main gas blamed for climate change, to 20 percent below 1990 levels
by 2020.

It also says it will cut by nearly a third if other rich nations
agree to follow suit when they meet for global climate talks in
Copenhagen in December.

But many scientists say much deeper cuts are needed from rich
nations to keep the climate temperature increase below 2 degrees

Poorer countries preparing for Copenhagen say industrialized nations
caused the climate problem in the first place and should cut emissions
to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

That could be achieved in Europe for a cost of 2 trillion euros, or
around 2 percent of cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) over the
next decade, said the report.

"Put another way, this cost would be the equivalent of temporarily
holding GDP constant for about one year before resuming normal growth,"
it added.

The cost equates to about 2 euros per European per day, but that
does not take account of the positive impact of job creation and
reduced spending on hydrocarbon imports.

True to FOEE's politics, the assessment excludes the use of nuclear
energy or carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology that would allow
European power suppliers to keep on burning coal. It also rules out
most carbon offsetting.

Instead, it assumes Europeans will accept higher taxes and make
major lifestyle changes -- something politicians have not yet dared

Such lifestyle changes could be continued to 2050, leading to a 90 percent cut in emissions, said the report.

Journeys in private cars would be cut to 43 percent of all journeys
by 2050, compared to roughly 75 percent today, while people would
switch from air travel to rail for 80 percent of the flights being made
today of less than 1,000 km.

Wind power would be scaled up from its current 3.3 percent share of
generating capacity to 22 percent in 2020 and 55 percent in 2050.

(Reporting by Pete Harrison)

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