Stern Warns Humanity Is at Climate Crossroads, Radical Action Needed in Paris
The lead author of the 2006 Stern Review on the economics of climate change says that although there will be an agreement at the UN climate conference in Paris, COP21, in December, it’s what happens afterwards that is crucial.
Professor Nicholas Stern warns: “Whatever way we look at it, the action we need to take is immense.”
If governments delay taking decisive measures to halt greenhouse gas emissions, he is convinced that a tipping point on climate will be reached. “In Paris, we need recognition of what we need to do—and how radical that change will be.”
Awareness of Urgency
Stern, chair of the UK’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and a former chief economist at the World Bank, will be involved in the Paris negotiations.
He told a packed audience at Oxford University that, on the plus side, there is now a much greater willingness to work towards a meaningful agreement on climate change.
Generally, there is far more awareness of the urgency of the issue. China and the U.S. are not—as in the past—“dancing around each other,” but co-operating on how to bring down emissions.
Stern said that during talks coinciding with the state visit to the UK by China’s President, Xi Jinping, Chinese officials said the country’s emissions would peak by 2025 and then start declining. Previously, China said it would not reach peak emissions till 2030.
“I’m very optimistic about what we can do,” Stern said. “That’s not the same as saying I’m optimistic about what we will do.”
According to calculations on greenhouse gas emissions made by countries around the world in the run-up to the talks in Paris, billions more tonnes of climate-changing CO2 would be pumped into the atmosphere up to the year 2030.
After that, if climate change is to be tackled, there will have to be dramatic emission cutbacks—ultimately to zero.
“The cost of inaction is far more than the cost of action,” Stern said.
Infrastructure that will shape the rest of the century needs to be built—and such projects have to be in tune with the goal of a zero emissions future. As more people move to cities, urban areas being built need to be climate-friendly and energy-efficient.
With current interest rates on the floor, and likely to be so for some time to come, Stern asked: “If this is not the time to invest, when is?”
Stern said that, in the past, some had questioned the fight against climate change, saying that overcoming poverty was more important.
But he argued that the challenges of overcoming poverty and climate change are interlinked. “If we fail on one, we fail on the other.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Melissa Hellmann
When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. At home, she was feeding her children locally sourced, organic foods.
By James O'Hare
There are 20 million people in the world facing famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. In developed nations, too, people go hungry. Venezuela, for instance, is enduring food insecurity on a national level as a result of economic crisis and political corruption. In the U.S., the land of supposed excess, 12.7 percent of households were food insecure in 2015, meaning they didn't know where their next meal would come from.
Artists are taking the climate crisis into frame and the results are emotional, beautiful and stirring.
So you've seen the best climate change cartoons and shared them with your friends. You've showed your family the infographics on climate change and health, infographics on how the grid works and infographics about clean, renewable energy. You've even forwarded these official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphs that explain the 10 clear indicators of climate change to your colleagues at the office.
As the Trump administration moves full speed ahead on boosting the oil and fossil fuel industry, opposition to increased pipeline construction is cropping up in different communities around the country.
By Simon Evans
Last Saturday, two dead whales washed up on the coast of Suffolk, in eastern England, and a third was spotted floating at sea.
What happened next illustrates how news can spread and evolve into misinformation, when reported by journalists rushing to publish before confirming basic facts or sourcing their own quotes.
By Monica Amarelo and Paul Pestano
Sun safety is a crucial part of any outdoor activity for kids, and sunscreen can help protect children's skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Kids often get sunburned when they're outside unprotected for longer than expected. Parents need to plan ahead and keep sun protection handy in their cars or bags.
By Joe McCarthy
A lot of people take part in community clean-up efforts—spending a Saturday morning picking up litter in a park, mowing an overgrown field or painting a fence.