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Nic* Stern lays down global carbon targets

Nic* Stern  sets out what is needed in Copenhagen and why the prospects for a cooperative agreement that works are not insurmountable.

We need to resolve the current negotiation deadlock:

“That deadlock consists of an approach by rich countries which collectively involves inadequate emissions reductions and unwillingness to make financial commitments without being able to approve the plans for developing countries to move to low-carbon growth. And on the part of developing countries, an unwillingness to make commitments on reductions without a clear indication of financial support from the rich countries, together with an unwillingness to have their own plans for low-carbon development determined by, or subject to the approval of, the rich countries. The developing countries also find the level of commitment by rich countries to domestic reductions in the next two decades both too small and unconvincing”.

 We must do four things:

1. First, recognise required global emissions targets. To avoid an increase in global average temperature > 2˚C, we need to reduce annual worldwide emissions from the present level of 50 gigatonnes of CO2E to no more than 20 gts by 2050. There are various trajectories but none allow any more than 35 gts by 2030. These are the key targets.  Planned national emissions must be consistent with them.

2. Rich countries must reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050, compared with 1990. Developing countries, including China and India, also need to limit and decrease their emissions, but in ways consistent with continued economic growth and reduced poverty. (Predictably climate skeptics scoff at the difficulty of meeting such targets).

3. Global annual emissions must be cut to between 44-48 gts of CO2 by 2020 to give a reasonable chance of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 2˚C.

4. Rich countries should give developing countries US$100 billion per year for mitigation and US$100 billion per year for adaptation by the 2020s.  Measures should include those to prevent deforestation and low-carbon growth plans.

“If we can get to grips with these issues, then we can achieve an agreement that is effective, efficient and equitable. It will allow us to avoid the profound risks of climate change, to overcome poverty worldwide and to usher in an exciting new era of prosperity based on sustainable low-carbon growth. Through innovation and investment in new greener and more energy efficient technologies in the next two or three decades, we can create the most dynamic period of growth in economic history. And what is more, a low-carbon world will also be quieter, cleaner, more energy-secure and more biologically diverse. Let us not allow mistrust, pessimism and lack of ambition to prevent us from achieving these aims. Instead let us have real vision and leadership in both developing and developed countries which seize the opportunities offered by Copenhagen, for us, our children and future generations”.  Wow, eh!

* Lord Stern to other than close personal friends! He’s a good lad!

3 comments to Nic* Stern lays down global carbon targets

  • Uncle Milton

    “Lord Stern to other than close personal friends! He’s a good lad!”

    Of course any well-educated economist of your age Harry will have been reading and learning from Stern for 30+ years, well before anyone had even heard about climate change. One of my favourite papers of his was the joint work he did with with Tony Atkinson, “Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods”, published in the ReStud in the mid 70s.

    Stern has been thinking deeply about these kinds of issues for a long time.

  • I seem to have been confused by the lord’s figures. On the one hand, he is saying that “we need to reduce annual worldwide emissions from the present level of about 50 gigatonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent to no more than 20 gigatonnes by 2050.” On the other, he is saying “If we only reach the upper end of this range, much bigger annual reductions in emissions would be required in subsequent years, and cuts of more than 50 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990 to prevent a rise of more than 2˚C.”
    So isn’t it from 50 to 20 more than 50% already? Or the present level of emissions are below that of 1990? Or have I got my understanding wrong?
    If the lord is wrong on these figures, then couldn’t he be wrong on his argument on climate change altogether?

  • MAGB

    The Productivity Commission staff ripped Stern’s main climate change paper to pieces: http://www.pc.gov.au/research/staffworkingpaper/sternreview

    I read a few of his chapters – the one on health for example was nonsense, and since been completely rebutted by experts like Paul Reiter.

    He is a political advocate, not an independent economist. His papers are good for lining the chook pen.

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