Climate Change to Spark Economic Depression
Given overwhelming and robust evidence, the scientific debate on global warming is now closed and it is time for action which will require going beyond science to policy and advocacy formulation. A major new report [more | more2 | more3] by chief British government and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern finds that the benefits of determined worldwide steps to tackle climate change far outweigh the costs, and that failure to make these investments will lead to “economic upheaval on the scale of the 1930s Depression”, costing “more than both world wars” while rendering “swathes of the planet uninhabitable” and turning “200 million people into refugees”. This is not alarmist doomsdayism – it is the best policy predictions based upon the current science. There are many ways to know climate change, science being important but just one of them. The report is the best policy document to date regarding likely apocalyptic social and economic outcomes of doing nothing to address the global ecological crises of which climate change is part and paramount.
“The chance to keep greenhouse gases at a level which scientists say should avoid the worst effects of climate change 'is already almost out of reach… the benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs'.” The report estimates stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will cost about one per cent of annual global output by 2050. But if the world does nothing, it could cut global consumption per person by between five and 20 per cent. He suggested rich nations take responsibility for emissions cuts of 60-80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. Further, a global carbon price was needed, affixing a clear cost to pollution, and this could be created through tax. And with only perhaps a decade to act with force, it is imperative that a Kyoto successor agreement is negotiated [more] as early as next year.