Comment by Nicholas Stern on China-United States joint announcement on climate change

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 in

Welcoming the China-United States Joint Announcement on Climate Change ( today (12 November), Nicholas Stern (Lord Stern of Brentford), Chair of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, and President of the British Academy, said:

“President Obama and President Xi should be congratulated for demonstrating real leadership with this historic joint announcement. They have together recognised the global importance of the need to avoid the risks of dangerous climate change, and the many benefits of the transition to low-carbon economic growth and development. This very significant and valuable joint announcement should add further momentum towards an international agreement on climate change, which is due to be finalised in Paris in December 2015. The European Union is also helping to drive towards a strong and credible international agreement through its 2030 energy and climate change package, announced last month, which commits the Member States to reducing their collective domestic emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990.”

“It is important that all countries increase the ambition of their national commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Even with today’s announcement by the United States and China, national commitments across the world are still not consistent with the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid a rise in average temperature of more than 2 centigrade degrees above its pre-industrial level, which would lead to risks of dangerous climate change that could threaten the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world. President Obama and President Xi have recognised in their joint announcement the importance of the goal of avoiding warming of more than 2 centigrade degrees, and the need to further increase the ambition of emissions cuts over time. As countries all around the world commit themselves to a new low-carbon path, we should be confident that they will learn and innovate, allowing the United States to cut its emissions by 28 per cent by 2025, the upper limit of the target announced today, and allowing China to start reduce its annual emissions before 2030. President Xi and President Obama indicated in their joint announcement that their best efforts will be in the direction of achieving the upper level of the ambitions set out today.”

“I trust now that the leaders of the G20 countries will hold major discussions about climate change at the summit in Brisbane this weekend. The G20 countries are responsible for about 80 per cent of the world’s emissions and leadership at the most senior level of these major economies is vital. The G20 leaders should recognise that the transition to a low-carbon economy has great potential for growth which is cleaner, more secure, more sustainable and more attractive than is offered by the old high-carbon route. Now is the time for all world leaders to demonstrate that they are committed to international efforts to avoid dangerous climate change.”


  1. Lord Stern is also chair of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, as well as I.G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government and Director of the Asia Research Centre, at London School of Economics and Political Science. Since July 2013, Lord Stern has been President of the British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Lord 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. He was recommended as a non-party-political life peer by the UK House of Lords Appointments Commission in October 2007, and Baron Stern of Brentford was introduced in December 2007 to the House of Lords, where he sits on the independent cross-benches.
  2. The ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy ( is hosted by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council ( The Centre’s mission is to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.
  3. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment ( was launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science in October 2008. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (