Nicholas Stern comments on outcome of United Nations climate change summit in Doha
Commenting on the outcome today (7 December) of the United Nations climate change summit at Doha, Qatar, Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science, said:
“The Doha Gateway Package represents modest but important progress from last year’s summit in Durban, which set out the principles of an international agreement in 2015 for action by both rich and developing countries to tackle climate change. Doha has laid out a work programme through which countries can reach agreement in 2015. The decisions taken in Durban and Doha both take into account that although rich countries, with 1 billion people, have been responsible for the bulk of historical emissions of greenhouse gases, developing countries, with 6 billion people, now emit about half the annual total, based on either consumption or production. It is vital that all countries reduce emissions and that rich countries take a lead in both creating low-carbon growth for themselves and in supporting developing countries to find a new and sustainable approach to growth, development and poverty reduction.
“The Doha package includes positive outcomes, such as a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a continuation of financial support from rich countries to developing countries, and a decision to focus efforts on negotiating a new international agreement in 2015, to take effect in 2020. The UK Government can be proud of its role in Doha, where it has helped to forge agreement between other countries and has led by example in making firm commitments of financial support to assist developing countries with the transition to low-carbon economic development and growth and to adapt to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided. Ed Davey and Greg Barker have shown what can be achieved when the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives work together within the Coalition Government. The European Union has again demonstrated strong leadership at the climate change summit and shown once that collectively it is more effective than the individual Member States acting alone and can be and should be much more than a customs union.
“However, there has been, yet again, a very big mismatch between the scale and urgency of action required to effectively manage the huge risks of climate change, and the political will and ambition that has been displayed in Doha. Current commitments and pledges by countries to reduce emissions by 2020 are clearly not consistent with the goal of giving the world a reasonable chance of avoiding global warming of more than 2 centigrade degrees. We are headed on current plans for likely increases of 3 centigrade degrees or more — temperatures far outside those that Homo sapiens has ever experienced and which could involve the movement of hundreds of millions of people and extended and severe conflict. Thus it is crucial that all countries, both developed and developing, now focus their efforts not just on agreeing a strong and effective international agreement, but also on finding ways of increasing emissions cuts before 2020 and beyond. The alternative path is likely to be full of innovation, discovery and growth and will be much more attractive than our current trajectory.
Rich countries must also honour their promises to ramp up their financial support for developing countries to make the transition to low-carbon economic development and growth, and to adapt to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided. There must be even greater ambition, cooperation and collaboration at next year’s summit in Warsaw than we have seen here in Doha if the world is to have any real chance of avoiding the risks that would be created by global warming of more than 2 centigrade degrees.”
Notes for Editors
- Nicholas Stern is I.G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government, and chair of both the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, at London School of Economics and Political Science. He was Second Permanent Secretary at H.M. Treasury of the UK Government 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. Baron Stern of Brentford was introduced in December 2007 to the House of Lords, where he sits on the independent cross-benches.
- 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 and the Global Green Growth Institute.
- The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy is hosted by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and Munich Re.