Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stern warns climate change critics

Flawed economic arguments against tackling climate change are being used to slow the move to low-carbon growth, a leading economist has warned.

Lord Stern, whose key 2006 report set out the economic case for cutting greenhouse gases, said science suggested the world was heading for temperature rises of 3C or 4C on the basis of current efforts to stop global warming.

Such rises would cause a “catastrophic rewrite of the relationship between humans and the planet within the lifetimes of those being born today”, he will say in the last in a series of lectures on climate change.

Opponents of strong moves to tackle climate change put forward economic arguments against action, including its cost, the fear companies may move to less strictly regulated countries and that the UK should not take measures when others are doing “nothing”.

But Lord Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said moving to a low-carbon economy will create “investment, opportunity and growth”.

It will involve substantial investment and strong policies, he admits, but said countries which get left behind will suffer from weak technology and having their “dirty” goods shut out of global markets.

He believes the arguments against tackling climate change on a national level in the UK are “confused” and fail to understand that global warming is a market failure, with the true cost of goods and services which create emissions not reflected in their price.

Policies which tackle emissions are addressing that failure and are pro-market, he will tell the audience at the Lionel Robbins Memorial Lectures.

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