OSLO, Norway – The world must respond to climate change and other environmental challenges now while the cost is low or else pay a stiffer price later for its indecision, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Wednesday.
A new report by the 30-nation organization looks at "red light issues" in the environment, including global warming, water shortages, energy, biodiversity loss, transportation, agriculture and fisheries.
"A window of opportunity to act is now open," the report said. "We need forward-looking policies today to avoid high costs of inaction or delayed action over the longer term.
"Without more ambitious policies, increasing pressures on the environment could cause irreversible damage within the next few decades," said the summary, which was released in advance of the report.
The report, called Environmental Outlook to 2030, was to be presented by the organization's secretary-general, Angel Gurria, in Norway's capital Wednesday.
It recommends that governments create policies such as "green taxes" that encourage sound, environmentally friendly technologies and practices.
The rich world must help poor countries develop without spewing pollution by providing them with technology and expertise, it says.
The report includes a model of the impact on the environment if no steps are taken, compared to the result if the report's policy recommendations are adopted worldwide.
Economic growth would be nearly the same in both cases, but with a much healthier environment if the recommendations are adopted, it says.