Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stern Words

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The big news on climate change is coming from a 700 page document produced by a former chief economist of the World Bank.

Here is the story from the Independent.

The day that changed the climate
By Colin Brown and Rupert Cornwell
31 October 2006

Climate change has been made the world's biggest priority, with the publication of a stark report showing that the planet faces catastrophe unless urgent measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Future generations may come to regard the apocalyptic report by Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank, as the turning point in combating global warming, or as the missed opportunity.

As well as producing a catastrophic vision of hundreds of millions fleeing flooding and drought, Sir Nicholas suggests that the cost of inaction could be a permanent loss of 20 per cent of global output.


Presenting the findings in London, Tony Blair said the 700-page document was the "most important report on the future" published by his Government. Green campaigners said that at last the world had woken up to the dangers they had been warning about for years.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, and likely next Prime Minister, assumed the task of leading the world in persuading the sceptics in the US, China and India to accept the need for global co-operation to avert the threat of a global catastrophe.

He has enlisted Al Gore, the former presidential candidate turned green evangelist, to sell the message in the United States, with Sir Nicholas.

While the Bush administration refused to be drawn on the report, US environmental groups seized on it to demand a major change in policy. "The President needs to stop hiding behind his opposition to the Kyoto protocol and lay a new position on the table," said the National Environmental Trust, in Washington.

The Washington Post said in an editorial that it was "hard to imagine" that the "intransigence" of the administration would long survive its tenure. "Will [Mr Bush] take a hand in developing America's response to this global problem," it asked, "Or will he go down as the President who fiddled while Greenland melted?"

Sir Nicholas's report contained little that was scientifically new. But British ministers are hoping his hard-headed economic analysis will be enough to persuade the doubters in the White House to curb America's profligate use of carbon energy.

In the Commons, Environment Secretary, David Miliband, confirmed that ministers were drawing up a Climate Change Bill, which would enshrine in law the Government's long-term target of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. But he declined to go into any detail.

Mr Blair said the consequences for the planet of inaction were "literally disastrous". more

According to Alan AdKisson in his World Changing article,

"Nicholas Stern is not just any economist; he was Chief Economist of the World Bank from 2000-2003. That by-line, and the gravitas and credibility that it evokes in nearly every corner of the globe, is a huge piece of the reason this report is getting such attention. Stern is now a UK civil servant and government advisor holding the rank of "second permanent secretary at the Treasury," (snip)

I predict the Stern Review will inevitably be used largely as a political prop and target, for better or worse but mostly for better, and that it will be read in its surprisingly lucid entirety by relatively few. But I also predict the Stern Review will go down as a landmark of how clear, thorough thinking can emerge into policy -- a landmark not just in climate change, or the economics of climate change, but in economics in general."

Charlie Kronick, of Greenpeace, said the report was "the final piece in the jigsaw" in the case for action to reduce emissions.

"There are no more excuses left,

no more smokescreens to hide behind,

now everybody has to back action to slash emissions,

regardless of party or ideology,"

Incredibly, Kerry's botched joke about Bush's lack of education

in foreign affairs is rattling around the news cages today,

not these Stern Words ,

and certainly not the truth,

of the true enemy among us.


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