Lord Stern admits underestimating pace of climate change

• January 29, 2013

Lord Nicholas Stern, Creative Commons: The World Economic Forum, 2008

Lord Nicholas Stern, Creative Commons: The World Economic Forum, 2008

Lord Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist of the World Bank and author of a seminal review on the economics of climate change, admitted that he underestimated the risks posed to global economies by rising global temperatures in his seminal review on climate change.  The Stern Review, published in 2006, cited a 75% chance of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius of global warming.  Lord Stern now believes the world is on track to see 4 degrees of warming, which would have devastating global effects.

Looking back, I underestimated the risks.  The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly.  Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.  I think I would have been a bit more blunt.  I would have been much more strong about the risks of a four- or five-degree rise…This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly.  Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one?  These risks for many people are existential.

He joins a growing chorus of prominent leaders featuring US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-MoonIMF Chief Christine Lagarde, and World Bank Head Jim Yong Kim who, in a few short weeks, have injected renewed authority and vitality into the rhetoric for climate action.

Stern’s latest warning on the risks posed by climate change are exemplified by the plight of the Australian people, who face the deluge and damage of a ‘once in 100 year flood,’ which has struck for the second time in just two years.

Read more: The Guardian>>


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Emily is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland with a B.A. in psychology. While in school, she spent her time leading environmental and social justice campaigns. She recently worked for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network as a grassroots organizer for a moratorium on natural gas fracking in Maryland.

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