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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 17:28 GMT
G8 assesses cost of species loss
Stingray (Image: AFP/Getty)
Preserved reef ecosystems have greater value than ruined ones
Environment ministers from the G8 have agreed to a study of the economic costs globally of species becoming extinct as a result of climate change.

German minister Sigmar Gabriel said the destruction of biodiversity was "not just an issue for birdwatchers."

The loss of plant and animal species was an economic disaster fuelling poverty in many areas, he said.

Ministers agreed the review should be along the lines of last year's report by the economist Sir Nicholas Stern.

Ministers from Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa are also attending the two-day talks in the eastern German city of Potsdam.

Germany's environment minister said 150 species were being lost to extinction every day.

"We agreed on the need for a report on the economic cost of biodiversity destruction, modelled on the Stern Report," Sigmar Gabriel said.

"We wanted to highlight the economic value of biodiversity and also the dangers for our economic prosperity caused by biodiversity loss," Mr Gabriel added.

The Stern report estimated that climate change could cost between 5% and 20% of annual gross domestic product.

'No new deal'

Ahead of the talks, Mr Gabriel said the meeting was about bridging the gap between industrialised and developing nations.

Green Room logo (Image: BBC)

"We must guard against giving developing nations the impression that the developed world expects them to carry our share of the burden," he said.

He said that the meeting would not bring a new deal, but was more of a chance to discuss the issues.

They will also discuss cutting greenhouse gas emissions and how to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

"We are going to speak about the barriers that have until now held back international climate change negotiations and how to break them," he said.

G8 heads of state are expected to focus on climate change at talks in Germany's Heiligendamm in June.

World environment ministers are also due at a UN conference on the issue in Bali in December.

Last week, European Union leaders agreed to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by the year 2020 at a climate change summit in Brussels.

But tackling the issues hinges on the response of heavy polluters outside the EU - the US, China and India.

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