Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 06:47:12 PM EST
No one has written about the 2 reports on our climate crisis which were released today by the UN and by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern. So here are the Cliff's Notes and a thread for discussion.
From the BBC:
The world cannot afford to wait before tackling climate change, the UK prime minister has warned.
A report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern suggests that global warming could shrink the global economy by 20%.
But taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, the 700-page study says.
Tony Blair said the Stern Review showed that scientific evidence of global warming was
"overwhelming" and its consequences "disastrous".
The review coincides with the release of new data by the United Nations showing an upward trend in emission of greenhouse gases - a development for which Sir Nicholas said that rich countries must shoulder most of the responsibility.
"For every £1 invested now we can save £5, or possibly more, by acting now.
"We can't wait the five years it took to negotiate Kyoto - we simply don't have the time. We accept we have to go further (than Kyoto)."
Sir Nicholas, a former chief economist of the World Bank, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Unless it's international, we will not make the reductions on the scale which will be required."
He went on: "What we have shown is the magnitude of these risks is very large and has to be taken into account in the kind of investments the world makes today and the consumption patterns it has."
The Stern Review forecasts that 1% of global gross domestic product (GDP) must be spent on tackling climate change immediately.
It warns that if no action is taken:
· Floods from rising sea levels could displace up to 100 million people
· Melting glaciers could cause water shortages for 1 in 6 of the world's population
· Wildlife will be harmed; at worst up to 40% of species could become extinct
· Droughts may create tens or even hundreds of millions of "climate refugees"
The study is the first major contribution to the global warming debate by an economist, rather than an environmental scientist.
Mr Brown, who commissioned the report, has also recruited former US Vice-President Al Gore as an environment adviser.
Mr Brown called for a long-term framework of a worldwide carbon market that would lead to "a low-carbon global economy". Among his plans are:
· Reducing European-wide emissions by 30% by 2020, and at least 60% by 2050
· By 2010, having 5% of all UK vehicles running on biofuels
· Creating an independent environmental authority to work with the government
· Establishing trade links with Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica to ensure sustainable forestry
· Working with China on clean coal technologies
From the Chicago Tribune
Raising the stakes in the global warming dispute with the United States and China, Britain issued a sweeping report Monday warning that the Earth faces a calamity on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression unless urgent action is taken.
The British government also hired former Vice President Al Gore, who has emerged as a powerful environmental spokesman since losing the 2000 presidential election, to advise it on climate change -- a clear indication of Prime Minister Tony Blair's growing dissatisfaction with U.S. environmental policy.
The 700-page report argues that environmentalism and economic growth can go hand in hand in the battle against global warming. But it also says that if no action is taken, rising sea levels, heavier floods and more intense droughts could displace 200 million people by the middle of the century.
The report said unabated climate change would eventually cost the equivalent of between 5 percent and 20 percent of global gross domestic product each year. The report by Sir Nicholas Stern, a senior government economist, represents a huge contrast to the U.S. government's wait-and-see policies.
Blair called for "bold and decisive action" to cut carbon emissions and stem the worst of the temperature rise.
Stern said acting now to cut greenhouse gas emissions would cost about 1 percent of global GDP each year. "The benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs," he said. "We can grow and be green."
Blair, Stern and Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who commissioned the report, emphasized that the battle against global warming can only succeed with the cooperation of major countries such as the United States and China.
President Bush kept the United States -- by far the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming -- out of the Kyoto international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases, saying the pact would harm the U.S. economy.
The British government is considering new taxes on cheap airline flights, fuel and high-emission vehicles. It also announced legislation that would set a goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
Under the Kyoto accord, 35 industrialized nations committed to reducing emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Britain is one of only a few industrialized nations whose greenhouse gas emissions have fallen in the last 15 years, the United Nations said. It said Germany's emissions dropped 17 percent between 1990 and 2004, Britain's by 14 percent and France's by almost 1 percent.
Overall, there was a 2.4 percent rise in emissions by 41 industrialized nations from 2000 to 2004, mostly because former Soviet-bloc countries increased emissions by 4.1 percent.
Damn! They have altered the original Tribune article. It was initially quote harsh on the Bush Admin. Now it's kind of all over the place. I wish I'd saved the original...
Here is some information about the UN report: Report points to rising emission trends. I don't know if it says anything new...
Anyway, I think there are a few questions here:
If it will only cost 1% of the GDP to fix the problem, and will most assuredly cost more the longer we wait, why is the US govt. so hell bent on not being cooperative? It seems like savvy businesspeople would look at the longterm and realize it is in their best interest to act now. Plus, with tax incentives for green businesses and other initiatives, why must better environmental policy be so non-negotiable for the US?
Also, what role are local governments going to play in this? If you cannot force the US to sign the Kyoto treaty or force countries to get their act together, can we create a less orthodox international coalition of communities? Or am I totally insane? I am thinking about this because of the greening policies adopted in places like Chicago, which totally bypass federal government. Or are these things too little to make an impact?
And lastly, why doesn't the world bully us into getting our act together? You have to breath our air. We are devouring your resources. Where's the outrage? Where are the boycotts and the voting out of office those who appease Bush and his lackeys? (Ok, you're doing well on that last point.) But seriously, where are your hardball negotiators?
Anyway... Thanks to Jerome et al. for Energize America. I think we all know what needs to be done. Now we just have to find a way to get it done.
Mea Culpa. Rdf's diary on the subject.
Go read the comments.