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Lord Stern responds to front page story in 'The Times'


27 October 2009   

Responding to a front-page story in The Times today, Lord Stern of Brentford said: “The headline and opening paragraphs of the front page story in ‘The Times’ today give undue prominence to comments I made to them yesterday about the greenhouse gases that are emitted by different types of food production. I think that once people understand the great risks that climate change poses, they will naturally want to choose products and services that cause little or no emissions of greenhouse gases, which means ‘low-carbon consumption’. This will apply across the board, including electricity, heating, transport and food. A diet that relies heavily on meat production results in higher emissions than a typical vegetarian diet. Different individuals will make different choices.

"However, the debate about climate change should not be dumbed down to a single slogan, such as ‘give up meat to save the planet’. Climate change has broad and profound implications for us and we need a sensible public discussion about the choices and decisions we face. That is why I have organised a symposium in Parliament today to allow MPs and peers to discuss these issues and to encourage them to engage the public about them. It is clear that we in the rich countries have to cut our emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 relative to 1990 levels. As the first annual report of the Committee on Climate Change shows, that is feasible for the UK. The process of transition to a low-carbon economy is likely to be very creative over the next few decades and to foster a new era of growth and prosperity.”

Notes for Editors

  1. Lord Nicholas Stern was recommended as a non-party-political life peer by the UK House of Lords Appointments Commission in October 2007. Baron Stern of Brentford was introduced to the House of Lords in December 2007, where he sits on the independent cross-benches.
  2. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment was launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in October 2008. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.
  3. Lord Stern is also Chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), which is hosted by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). It is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and Munich Re.
  4. Lord Nicholas Stern was Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury between 2003 and 2007. He also served as Head of the Government Economic Service, head of the review of economics of climate change (the results of which were published in ‘The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review’ in October 2006), and director of policy and research for the Commission for Africa. His previous posts included Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist at the World Bank, and Chief Economist and Special Counsellor to the President at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. 
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