Lord Stern, author of the Stern Review, chairman of the CCCEP, which a week ago was accused of committing £9 million research funding fraud, has now claimed that a lot more money than he previously estimated will be required to address climate change.
Nicholas Stern: cost of global warming ‘is worse than I feared’
Ten years ago the leading economist warned about climate change in a landmark report – he says while there is cause for optimism, the picture is still grim.
A lot has happened since Nicholas Stern, then a permanent secretary at the Treasury, produced his landmark review of the impact of climate change 10 years ago. His work was quickly recognised as the definitive account of the economic dangers posed to the planet by global warming.
Since then, global temperatures have risen to record levels. Arctic summer sea ice has continued to shrink, as have many major land-based ice sheets. Carbon dioxide is being pumped into the atmosphere in ever-increasing amounts. At the same time, low-lying coastal areas, such as south Florida and parts of Bangladesh, are experiencing more and more flooding as sea levels have risen. Scientists have begun to link extreme weather events to the planet’s changing climate, while animal and plant species are gradualling moving towards the poles. So, a decade on, is Stern plunged in despair over our prospects? Not quite. While the picture is certainly grim, the world’s top climate economist still believes there are grounds for modest optimism.
“We have been too slow in acting on climate change,” he told the Observer. “In particular, we have delayed the curbing of greenhouse gas emissions for far too long. When we published our review, emissions were equivalent to the pumping of 40-41bn tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year. Today there are around 50bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. At the same time, science is telling us that impacts of global warming – like ice sheet and glacier melting – are now happening much more quickly than we anticipated.”
In his report, published in October 2006, Stern warned that the cost of inaction would be far greater for future generations than the costs of actions taken today. “With hindsight, I now realise that I underestimated the risks. I should have been much stronger in what I said in the report about the costs of inaction. I underplayed the dangers.”
Will Lord Stern receive his extra government funding?
The Brexit vote shocked the British establishment, by delivering an enormous mandate to leave campaigners, despite vigorous efforts by remain campaigners to claim Brexit would damage Britain’s commitment to green policies.
There have been some encouraging signs since Brexit of a softening of British environmental policy, but since the heady days of the Brexit victory party, the leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage has accused the British government of backsliding, of trying to renege on their commitment to serve the will of the British people.
My guess is Lord Stern is testing the water. If he receives more cash, the British green revolution is still on. If not, who knows, maybe he’ll get a job with the United Nations.