Stern review on the economics of climate change
30 October 2006
The most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change was published today. It has been carried out by Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economic Service and former World Bank Chief Economist.
The Review finds that all countries will be affected by climate change, but it is the poorest countries that will suffer earliest and most. Unabated climate change risks raising average temperatures by over 5°C from pre-industrial levels. Such changes would transform the physical geography of our planet, as well as the human geography - how and where we live our lives.
Speaking at the Natural Environment Research Council's International Rapid Climate Change Conference last week, Sir David King, the government's chief scientific advisor, broke the news that the review would demonstrate that "if no action is taken we will be faced with an economic downturn of the kind that we haven't seen since the great depression and the two world wars. And [Sir Nicholas Stern's] analysis will also indicate that immediate action is required if we are to bring this under control with the least economic hurt."
Professor Alan Thorpe, Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said "I welcome this important report. It emphasises the continuing critical need for science to provide the solid foundation for determining action on climate change - this means a fully multidisciplinary approach across the natural, social and economic sciences. This is where NERC is going to take a leading role over the next few years. To adapt to the many impacts of climate change that we are already committed to, will require a much greater degree of scientific certainty than we have now on the regional and shorter timescale signals. Many of the impacts of climate change on, for example, biodiversity, human health, air and water quality still have huge scientific uncertainties associated with them."
Professor Mike Hulme, Director of the Tyndall Centre said "Too many debates about climate change policy rely on partial or inappropriate economic analyses. By undertaking this comprehensive assessment of what is known about the economics of climate change (and identifying what we just don't know), the Stern Review offers the prospect of a better informed and more transparent debate about how economics can inform national and international climate policy-making."
Chris Huntingford, a climate modeller at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, commented "This comprehensive assessment provides the vital missing link between global economics and the emerging and overwhelming evidence of human influence on climate change. The scientific research community needs to work on reducing the uncertainty in climate predictions, so we fully understand the risks involved. We will use this report as a basis for collaboration with economists to ensure this pressing issue is tackled."
Professor Neil Adger, an environmental economist at the University of East Anglia and the Tyndall Centre said "The economics of Nicholas Stern is not the 'dismal science' of standard economics. The Review shows with clarity and vision how climate change can be tackled head on by governments using clear goals and sustained investment, and by harnessing ingenuity and technology. But it goes further to demonstrate, using the economic language loved by Exchequers, that climate change is a moral policy issue where the countries of the world are completely interdependent but with different responsibilities for action."
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411561
Mob: 07917 557215
Press release: 64/06
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