Stern thinks more needs to be done and faster than envisaged in Stern Review

21 July 2011

Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Review, says his views on climate change have intensified over the five years since the publication of his impactful study. In an interview with Technology Review, Stern lays out some key thoughts that every person concerned about the impact of climate change on business needs to take account of:

  • It is unreasonable to overlay climate change models on growth scenarios. Climate change so changes the growth story it could radically reverse growth over the next 50-100 years. That would reverse development and potentially force the displacement of hundredsd of millions or even billions of people.
  • Businesses are now all looking at a carbon-constrained world – this lowers their risk.
  • Though carbon pricing has failed to get going in the US, it will get there in the end because there is no choice
  • Although lo-carbon technology has moved faster than Stern anticipated, entrepreneurship will not be enough to deliver the result needed – we need smart policies too.
  • The Stern Review has failed to convince people that there is a sense of urgency about acting now. IF we wait 5-10 years to act, it will be even more diffficult then.
  • China has been remarkably proactive in its decision-making. China’s leaders expect to invest about half a trilliondollars a year into each of three industries: renewables, energy efficiency and clean tech. This is because they see China as extremely vulnerable in climate change, but also because they see the growth stories in the future.
  • The science of climate change looks more worrying than it did five years ago. There were some nasty feedback loops that got left out of the initial publication because they were difficult to model. However, some of these drivers seem to bigger and faster, and therefore more worrisome.

Plenty here for every risk manager, business strategist and policy-maker to devour. For more on the interview, check out



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