Why are we waiting? The logic, urgency, and promise of tackling climate change by Nicholas Stern


Oxford Martin School
Published on Oct 25, 2015

This book talk is hosted by the Oxford Martin School and the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford.

The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. A committed and strong low-carbon transition could trigger a new wave of economic and technological transformation and investment, a new era of global and sustainable prosperity. Why, then, are we waiting?

In this book talk, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it has been so difficult to tackle climate change effectively. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.

About the author

Lord Stern is I. G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics, Member of the Oxford Martin School Advisory Council; President of the British Academy, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, and former Chief Economist at the World Bank. He was the lead author of the influential Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, the findings of which he adapted in his book for general readers, The Global Deal: Climate Change and the Creation of a New Era of Progress and Prosperity (also known as A Blueprint for a Safer Planet).

About the book

The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. A committed and strong low-carbon transition could trigger a new wave of economic and technological transformation and investment, a new era of global and sustainable prosperity. Why, then, are we waiting? In this book, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it has been so difficult to tackle climate change effectively. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.

Stern argues that the risks and costs of climate change are worse than estimated in the landmark Stern Review in 2006 – and far worse than implied by standard economic models. He reminds us that we have a choice. We can rely on past technologies, methods, and institutions – or we can embrace change, innovation, and international collaboration. The first might bring us some short-term growth but would lead eventually to chaos, conflict, and destruction. The second could bring about better lives for all and growth that is sustainable over the long term, and help win the battle against worldwide poverty. The science warns of the dangers of neglect; the economics and technology show what we can do and the great benefits that will follow; an examination of the ethics points strongly to a moral imperative for action. Why are we waiting?

Oxford Martin School,
University of Oxford
www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk

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