The Stern Review
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The Stern Review
Posted on Monday 8th January 2007, 05:37.

The Stern Review -a stark reminder of the ecological and economical dangers facing our planet if global warming and carbon pollution are not curbed. Comments by Robert Kyriakides, CEO Genersys Plc.

News article added: 2007-01-08 10:37:32
Date added: 2006-11-03 00:34:44 Filesize: 4
Carbon Emissions
Date added: 2006-11-03 00:34:44 Filesize: 15
Sir Nicholas Stern

Sir Nicholas Stern’s Review “the Economics of Climate Change” has been making the headlines because a highly respected economist who has worked for the World Bank and the UK Government, as well as holding professorships at pre-eminent universities, has reported in detail on climate change. Until now many such reports have been written by the usual suspects, mostly well known environmentalists. Sir Nicholas worked for the World Bank, an organisation that environmentalists criticise heavily.

Although the World Bank forces no nation to borrow, when a poor nation does borrow it is forced to undertake policies which many environmentalists would oppose. I should comment that many of these environmentally policies improved for the better during Sir Nicholas’s time at the World Bank. Notwithstanding the fact that Sir Nicholas is not one of the usual environmental suspects, his 575 page review draws virtually all of the conclusions that most people who study the climate change issue have already reached. The conclusion that he draws - not fighting climate change will end up costing us our prosperity, safety and peace - is not unique but its true value is that this is the conclusion of a man who has worked in the real world of government finance and that gives it very high value indeed.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, commissioned the review. In 575 pages of scientifically supported logical thinking Sir Nicholas actually destroys the logic and the viability of the government’s present energy policy. His fundamental argument is simple; climate change is almost certainly happening and it is almost certainly caused by human activity. Left unchecked with a “business as usual” policy would likely be catastrophic. We must implement policies to tax carbon or otherwise “price” it to discourage its production. If we act now we can afford to stabilise carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 550 parts per million but attempting to stabilise it at 450 ppm is probably unaffordable. Even if the scientists are all wrong about climate change the risk of them being right is so high that we must take action, on a prudent risk management basis.

Well, that is all logical basic stuff and not too radical in its aims if you remember that carbon dioxide is now “only” 380 ppm.

When Sir Nicholas’ Review was presented at the Royal Society Mr Blair and Mr Brown were with him. Our leaders said how important it was, how essential to tackle climate change – “there is nothing more serious” Mr Blair said. Well, Mr Blair says it, but what does his government actually do about it? If we measure the total amount of taxpayers’ money on carbon emission savings it is a tiny figure. Recently the Government announced £6 millions for solar water heating subsidy to last until 2008. It’s a sharp contrast to the £77 millions that Members of Parliament take out of taxpayers’ money each year for their own expenses. Several hundred millions spent on insulating homes is an interesting contrast to the several billions spent on the BBC each year.

The Stern Review is fundamentally right; there are parts of it on which I personally would not agree with – I do not think carbon trading the most helpful mechanism and I would go much further in compulsion – but Sir Nicholas has got it virtually right in his sums and most importantly in his underlying philosophy. The issue for the Government is having talked the talk, can they now walk the walk?

Robert Kyriakides
Chief Executive
Genersys plc


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