Nicholas Stern comments on outcome of Rio+20 summit

Posted on 22 Jun 2012 in

Responding to the close of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“Although the outcome of the Rio+20 expresses some laudable ambitions, it lacks both the concrete commitment to action and the urgency that is required by the challenges we face. The two defining challenges we face today are eradicating global poverty and managing the risks of climate change. But the conference has failed to acknowledge the compelling evidence about the scale and urgency of action required.

Just this week, the United States National Snow and Ice Data Center has announced that the extent of Arctic sea ice has reached a new record low for this time of year. It is a stark indication that delay and prevarication means we are now facing the immense risks of a world radically transformed by climate change. Surely this is not the future we want for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren?

And it is the rich countries that are failing most to respond to the challenges we face. They should be leading by example in cutting their greenhouse gas emissions and providing strong and practical support to the poor countries as they make the transition away towards low-carbon growth and development.

I welcome the Deputy Prime Minister’s reaffirmation in his speech to the conference of the UK’s commitment to investing 0.7% of gross national income in overseas aid, and the additional money he pledged for the International Fund for Agriculture Development’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme.

But the UK should also make a firm commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative launched by the United Nations Secretary-General. The world needs clear time-bound and funded targets and practical action to get sustainable energy to poor people in all continents. The UK can help show what is possible by working with countries, for example, in Africa, and their utilities and private sector to support action that gets results rapidly. The power of the example is the answer to international prevarication and vagueness. It is through actions rather than words that we will be able to create the future we want for ourselves and future generations.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy was established in 2008 to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research. The Centre is hosted jointly 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 and Munich Re.
  2. 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, which also supports the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London.