Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Stern says climate change report underestimated risks

Posted by Rich Sweeney on January 5, 2008

From the WSJ:

Climate Report Warnings ‘Underestimated’ Risks

Sir Nicholas Stern says the warnings in the high-profile –- and controversial — report he wrote on global climate change for the United Kingom government weren’t dire enough.

“We underestimated the risks,” he says.

Sir Nicholas, now head of the U.K. Government Economic Service and Adviser to the Government on the economics of climate change and development, delivered the annual Richard T. Ely Lecture at the American Economics Association meeting in New Orleans on Friday. (Ely was one of the founders of the AEA.)

“We underestimated the flow of emissions from developing countries, especially China,” he said, observing that emissions of greenhouse gases from China over the next 25 years will equal the total emissions from the U.S. and Europe over the last century. Emissions from developing countries and developed countries must be capped, he said, but the ethics of allocating the pain are delicate. “If you’re consuming the goods, you can’t blame the location of the factory,” he argued.

Sir Nicholas said the cost of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from the current trajectory would cost about 1% of global gross domestic product, a cost he said is manageable without undermining global prosperity. “This is not a low growth story. It’s a low carbon growth story,” he said.

One Response to “Stern says climate change report underestimated risks”

  1. tidal said

    It’s too bad that Stern didn’t provide a text, but some attendees are commenting… David Warsh’s ( main points here:

    Other good pointers on the speech and topic @ “bayesianheresy” as well…

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