Friday, October 27, 2006

UK Report on the economics of climate change to be released Monday

A "stark" report about the economic costs of climate change will be delivered to the Royal Society in the UK on Monday. It is hard to predict how much "play" the report will get here, given the 24-hour coverage of the upcoming elections (or should I say coverage of polls and campaign ads? US election campaigns seem to have officially devolved to something akin to the TV networks battling it out for viewers during sweeps week, more on that later) but the details of the report should be all over the international news.

From the Independent:

In a preview of a report he is to deliver next Monday, Sir Nicholas [Stern] told the Cabinet the world would have to pay 1 per cent of its annual GDP to avert catastrophe. But doing nothing could cost 5 to 20 times that amount. He told them: "Business- as-usual will derail growth."

The massive 700-page report - commissioned by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown - was described as "hard-headed" and "frighteningly convincing". It focused on the economic peril now confronting the world, unless action was taken to combat harmful CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming.

"He left no one in any doubt that doing nothing is not an option," said one Whitehall source. "And he stressed that the need for action was urgent."

His review could be a watershed in overcoming scepticism about the existence of global warming. "It was hard-headed," said another source. "It didn't deal in sandals and brown rice. It stuck to the economics."
Mr Brown believes it could force the oil-dominated White House of George Bush to concede the importance of action to curb climate change. One minister who was present said it destroyed the US government's well known argument that cutting carbon emissions was bad for business.

His report, covering the period up to 2100, warns that climate change could cause the biggest recession since the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. A downturn of that magnitude would have "catastrophic consequences" around the globe, with the poorest countries hit first and hardest, Sir Nicholas told the Cabinet. Insurance analysts, who submitted their evidence for his report, said they feared insurance claims could exceed the world's GDP.

The report itself should be available here.

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