World must deliver urgently on global agenda for climate and sustainability, says Nicholas Stern 10 years on from his landmark report

Posted on 28 Oct 2016 in

The world must deliver urgently and strongly on the global agenda for climate and sustainability over the next 10 years, and avoid the huge risks resulting from delay, Nicholas Stern will say in a keynote speech today (28 October 2016) to mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of his landmark review of the economics of climate change.

Professor Lord Stern will warn that without rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainability Development Goals, it may soon become impossible to meet the goal of holding global warming to well below 2°C. But he will stress that effective action will lead to a much more attractive path for economic development and poverty reduction than is offered by current patterns of growth around the world.

Professor Lord Stern was commissioned in 2005 by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to examine the costs and benefits of action on climate change. His report, ‘The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review’, was published on 30 October 2006.

In his speech today on ‘The Criticality of the Next 10 Years: Delivering the Global Agenda and Building Infrastructure for the 21st Century’, Professor Lord Stern will highlight the opportunities for economic growth and development across the world, together with radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which can be created by strong investment in sustainable infrastructure.

Professor Lord Stern will say:

“We have made progress in the 10 years since The Stern Review was published. But we must now seize the opportunities presented by the next 10 years.

“The transition to low-carbon economic growth and development offers something even more powerful than a fundamental reduction in climate risks. It is an opportunity to take a much more attractive, sustainable and inclusive path for development which delivers on the global agenda for growth, climate responsibility and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“With strong policy that sets clear expectations, market forces and private sector initiatives have a central role to play in shifting economies onto new low-carbon pathways.”

Professor Lord Stern will note that the world economy is likely to double in size over the next two decades. He will point out that investments made over the next 20 years could ‘lock in’ levels of annual emissions that will make it impossible to hold global warming to well below 2°C, which is set as a target in the Paris Agreement. The Agreement will come into force on 4 November, almost exactly 10 years after the publication of The Stern Review.

Professor Lord Stern will say:

“Our climate performance is currently off-track. Collectively, the ‘nationally determined contributions’ for the Paris Agreement are insufficient to meet the goals of holding global warming to well below 2°C and achieving zero net emissions during this century.

“The next 10 years will be absolutely crucial if we are to get on track. There is grave danger of the lock-in of emissions. What we do in the next 10 years will determine our progress for the next 20 years.

“The window of opportunity for making the right choices is uncomfortably narrow because bad infrastructure and other investments can lock in capital, technology and emissions patterns for decades.

“And the remaining carbon budget for well below 2°C is shrinking rapidly as emissions continue to ratchet up atmospheric concentrations.

“On the other hand, there is much clearer recognition around the world now, as shown by the Paris Agreement, of not only the immense risks of unmitigated climate change but also the great attractions that lie in the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economic growth.

“We have a unique opportunity now, with historically low interest rates, rapid technological change, particularly in energy production and use, digital communications, new materials, biotechnology and construction, coinciding with a period of strong investment in infrastructure to build a new path of sustainable growth.

“But if we do not seize this opportunity quickly, the target of holding global warming to well below 2°C will soon be out of our reach, with grave consequences.”

Professor Lord Stern’s keynote speech will be delivered between 9:15am and 10:15 am on 28 October 2016 at an international meeting on ‘The Stern Review +10: new opportunities for growth and development’, organised by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, held at the Royal Society in London, where ‘The Stern Review’ was launched on 30 October 2006.

For more information about this media release, a copy of Professor Lord Stern’s speech on ‘The Criticality of the Next 10 Years: Delivering the Global Agenda and Building Infrastructure for the 21st Century’, or more information about the international meeting on 28 October, please contact Bob Ward at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science: r.e.ward@lse.ac.uk

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. Lord Stern is chair of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and, as well as I.G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government, at the 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 with HM Treasury between October 2003 and May 2007. He served as Second Permanent Secretary and Head of the Government Economic Service, head of the review of the 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. Baron Stern of Brentford was introduced in December 2007 to the House of Lords, where he sits on the independent cross-benches. He was recommended as a non-party-political life peer by the UK House of Lords Appointments Commission in October 2007.

2. The ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (https://www.cccep.ac.uk/) 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 (http://www.esrc.ac.uk/). 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 (http://www.lse.ac.uk/grantham) 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 (http://www.granthamfoundation.org/).

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