Nicholas Stern’s new report on climate change mitigation

Lord Nicholas Stern released last month a new report on climate change mitigation : Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change (pdf).

It focuses on the increasing risks of inaction and stresses that the commitments of both developed and developing countries are vital.

To the AFP quoting Lord Stern, he underestimated the threat in his 2006 report and believe that the situation is even more dramatic.

Beforehand, much had been said on climate change environmental aspects, but the economical level wasn’t much addressed before. With these both reports, Lord Stern addresses brilliantly the issue.

In his previous report, Lord Stern estimated that inaction would cost Mankind up to a fifth of its Gross National Product when acting toward climate change mitigation would cost only ONE PERCENT of global GDP ! (source)

To the Agence France Press :

Nicholas Stern, the author of a key climate change report, said in an interview published Thursday that he and his team “underestimated” the risks of global warming.

(…) Stern’s 700-page report estimated the effects of climate change at up to a fifth of worldwide gross domestic product if nothing was done.

We underestimated the risks … we underestimated the damage associated with the temperature increases … and we underestimated the probability of temperature increases,” he told the business daily.

“The damage risks are bigger than I would have argued … We can’t be precise about what it would be like but you can say it would be a transformation.”

(…) Among the “bad” policies Stern listed was the use of grain and sugar to make biofuels.

(…) “Subsequent reports, (from) McKinsey (a consulting firm), the International Energy Agency, the (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), have pointed to the (Stern report’s) costs of action being roughly in the right ballpark,” he said.

“Nothing (since) has led me to revise the cost of action.”

According to Tree Hugger :

Acknowledging that his (Lord Stern) previous report may have underestimated the threat of climate change, he is now calling on developed nations to cut their emissions by 80% by 2050 and on developing nations to agree to binding targets by 2020.

To prevent catastrophic climate change, global emissions levels would need to peak within the next 15 years; they should then be halved from 1990 levels to 20 billion tons a year by 2050 and cut further to 10 billion tons thereafter –– the ultimate goal being to get annual per capita emissions to just 2 tons.

Though he argued developing nations should receive more time to prepare realistic emissions targets, he plainly stated that they too would need to shoulder some of the burden — and that any firm targets would need to be in place by 2020.

The rich nations should help them get there by providing financial and technological assistance, in addition to investing in clean energy projects under the CDM mechanism established by the Kyoto Protocol.

Speaking to an audience at the London School of Economics, Stern said humanity should aim for a stabilization target of 500 ppm, which would only allow for a further 2 degree rise. During his talk, he laid out the new report’s key elements as follows:

1. Emissions targets globally and for rich countries.
2. The role of developing countries in mitigation and trading.
3. International emissions trading.
4. Financing emissions reductions from deforestation.
5. Technology.
6. Adaptation in developing countries

I believe both these reports should have more media coverage as they are a great motivator for action. The latest one brings even more reason to act as the loss would be much bigger…

Giving one little percent of our global wealth to avoid losing more than a fifth represents an investment with such a ROI that it would make any financial specialist more than happy…

And you, what do you think about it ?

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2 thoughts on “Nicholas Stern’s new report on climate change mitigation”

  1. I think it’s interesting he’s pushing for 500 ppm, while James Hansen has recently said 350 ppm is the safe limit.
    Read about it through .

    I think we should at least look into what going to 350 ppm might cost. Then we could weigh the costs against the risks.

    I know much to little about climate science to understand how certain we could be about a safe carbon concentration limit.

  2. Oh Meryn, nice to see you drop by ! Thanks for your comment also 🙂

    I have no idea what limit we shouldn’t go over. I have heard many : 350, 450 and 500…

    For 350 it mustn’t be much more expensive than 500 I guess, it is just a question of political will worldwide. And the sooner we start, the better.

    The one thing that is absolutely sure is that we have to act fast and big to decrease our carbon dioxide emissions.

    I Hope you will keep on being interested by my articles !

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