Governments likely to increase emissions reductions after IPCC report, says Nicholas Stern

Posted on 24 Sep 2013 in

Governments around the world are likely to increase their emissions reductions after reading the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Nicholas Stern will tell a public audience today (24 September 2013).

In a speech at the Royal Society on ‘Growth, Innovation, International Understanding and Climate Policy in a Changing World’, to mark the start of the second phase of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, Lord Stern will draw attention to growing momentum towards an international agreement, due to be signed at the United Nations summit in Paris in December 2015.

He will point out that the publication of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the launch of the new Global Commission on the Economy and Climate should provide the impetus for countries to increase the urgency and scale of their emissions reductions.

Lord Stern will say: “Many countries, including the biggest emitters, are increasing action against climate change and not waiting for an international agreement. Not only do they recognise the huge risks created by unmanaged climate change, but they see the big economic opportunities presented by the transition to low-carbon growth and development. These actions will, in turn, reinforce movement towards an international agreement.”

“Following the publication of the IPCC report, which will provide a very clear picture of the huge risks posed by unmanaged climate change, I would expect more countries to follow the example set by the UK, and to introduce domestic legislation to create the necessary commitment to reduce emissions in line with the goal of avoiding global warming of more than 2°C.”

“The European Union should show leadership on the road to a new international agreement in 2015 and provide a strong example by setting a target to reduce its emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990. It can and should do this. Anything less would be a failure to show the required ambition.”

“Now is also the time for the UK to push for this target among other European countries and to confirm, rather than weaken, its own target to reduce its emissions by 50 per cent by 2027, as set out in the fourth carbon budget which was agreed by Parliament in 2011.”
Lord Stern will also draw attention to the shortcomings of current scientific and economic models in assessing the full range of risks from climate change, which he describes in a new paper published this week in the ‘Journal of Economic Literature’.

Lord Stern will say: “Scientists describe the scale of the risks from unmanaged climate change as potentially immense. However, the scientific models, because they omit key factors that are hard to capture precisely, appear to substantially underestimate these risks.

“Many economic models add further gross underassessment of risk because the assumptions built into the economic modeling on growth, damages and risks, come close to assuming directly that the impacts and costs will be modest and close to excluding the possibility of catastrophic outcomes.

“A new generation of models is needed in all three of climate science, impact and economics with a still stronger focus on lives and livelihoods, including the risks of large-scale migration and conflicts.”

Lord Stern will also welcome the launch of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate in New York today (24 September 2013). The Commission will publish a report on ‘The New Climate Economy’ in September 2014.

Lord Stern will say: “The New Climate Economy project, set up under the auspices of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, will bring together a group of the world’s foremost economists, policy and business experts to analyse and communicate the economic opportunities and risks that arise from climate change.

“The project does not have pre-conceived views or conclusions. It is an independent analysis of the evidence. We do not know what it will say in its final report.

“This is an economic-focused study, rather than a climate-focused one. The project will look at the climate issue from the point of view of economic policy and business investment decisions, in current economic conditions. The question it will examine is: how can governments, cities, businesses and investors achieve their own economic goals, such as growth, jobs, poverty reduction, profits, energy supply, or food supply, while also achieving emission reductions?”

Notes for Editors

Lord Stern of Brentford is 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, at London School of Economics and Political Science. He is also President of the British Academy. 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 was funded during its first phase between 2008 and 2013 by the UK Economic and Social Research Council  and Munich Re. The Centre’s mission is to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.

The new funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council for the Centre of £5.4 million from 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2018 will support research across five major themes:

  •  understanding green growth and climate-compatible development;
  • advancing climate finance and investment;
  • evaluating the performance of climate policies;
  • managing climate risks and uncertainties and strengthening climate services;
  • enabling rapid transitions in mitigation and adaptation.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, and its new Climate Economy project, have been set up by a group of seven countries (Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Korea, Norway, Sweden and the UK) as an independent initiative to report to the international community as a whole. The Commission is a partnership of seven economic and policy research institutes – located in the US, China, Europe, India, Korea and Ethiopia – overseen by an International Council comprising former heads of government and finance ministers and leaders in the fields of economics, business and finance. The International Council is chaired by Felipe Calderon, former President of Mexico. Lord Stern serves as a Vice-Chair.