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Report Calls for Managed Mediterranean Development

A new report says climate change and unchecked development in the Mediterranean region could sharply degrade the area and cost poorer countries in the region billions of dollars in the coming years. Lisa Bryant has more on the findings from Paris.

Authored by the U.N. Development Program and the European Investment Bank, the new study describes the dangers of unsustainable energy consumption, climate change and development on the arid, fragile and species-rich Mediterranean. Environmentalists consider the area a "hot spot" when it comes to climate change - meaning it is among those regions most vulnerable to rising temperatures resulting from greenhouse gas emissions.

The United Nations' Henri-Luc Thibault, director of Plan Bleu, or a "blue plan" for ecologically friendly development in the Mediterranean region, says the fallout from climate change will be particularly costly for eastern and southern countries bordering the Mediterranean - counties like Tunisia or Egypt. He spoke in Paris.

"The cost of non-action ... is 30 billion U.S. dollars. It represents the cost of [doing nothing] in terms of energy efficiency and renewables in the eastern and southern Mediterranean countries," Thibault said.

By contrast, Thibault said, the cost of promoting energy efficiency is far cheaper - and the study looked at the case of Tunisia and Egypt. Meanwhile, the fallout from business as usual - that is unchecked economic growth - could be devastating.

Southern Mediterranean countries - those in Africa or the Middle East - would suffer from less rainfall and rising temperatures, and rising sea levels could affect islands. By contrast, there could be more rainfall in northern regions, like the Alps.

In two weeks, leaders from Europe and the Mediterranean region will gather in Paris to sign a new Euro-Mediterranean plan. Many of these nations are part of Plan Bleu - and agreed three years ago to develop the Mediterranean area in a environmentally sound way.

"What we are presenting right now is to ask the head of states and the heads of government of these rim countries to act in the field of energy efficiency and the field of renewables," he said.

The report's recommendations include better energy and water conservation, sustainable shoreline development and protection of the marine environment, and sound agricultural and urbanization policies.