TEN YEARS AFTER THE STERN REVIEW

TEN YEARS AFTER THE STERN REVIEW

Economics, Climate Change and Biodiversity

Followed by a discussion on the threats and prospects for development in an era of climate change.

LORD NICHOLAS STERN

IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government,

Director India Observatory, London School of Economics

& acclaimed author of The Stern Review

Introduction:

Nicholas Stern has a background in developmental economics and climate change. He has been supporting the initiative to reduce global per capita emissions to reduce the impact of climate change. He also believes that poverty reduction, sustainability and climate change are intermingled components that affect each other intrinsically. He has been advocating governments for taking wellinformed decisions (with consideration to an ecological standpoint) when we consider development and infrastructure-building. 

Key points from the Meeting:

  •  10 years since, Nicholas released the report, ‘Stern Review on Economics of Climate Change’, Nicholas feels that the biggest challenge is in overcoming poverty and also fighting climate change at the same time.
  •  World economy will double in the next 20 years, resulting in new-built infrastructure that will be more than double of what it is right now. The challenge is to have CO₂ emissions reduced along with the development and changes that are bound to occur. Which is why scrutinizing how the world shapes up in the next 20 years becomes very important.
  •  Doing nothing or delaying efforts towards combatting climate change is the most expensive option that we could choose at present.
  •  Markets fail when goods that should be expensive, are sold for cheap. And Nicholas emphasizes that the impact of human-driven climate change will result in the ‘Greatest market failure of all time’.
  •  2016 is one of the hottest years of this century, with considerable increase in global temperatures. Intensity of natural disasters are also showing a peak. All of which could be influenced or related to increased carbon emissions. The continuing trend may lead to global temperatures increasing by 3ᵒc (A 3ᵒC increase in global temperatures has not occurred in the last 3 million years). The predicted intensity of carbon emissions is bound to increase by 10% in 2030, but the required emission rate will be -20% to reduce the impact of climate change globally.
  •  Way forward is to have initiatives that lead to lower global temperatures and also near zero emissions. 
  •  India has shown a positive stance in the Paris Agreement, but it needs to take the required steps as soon as possible, because negative impact of climate change affects landscapes, biodiversity and also humans in a very significant way.
  •  Direct dependence of poor communities for resources in ecosystems is significantly higher than that of the middle-class or rich subgroup of people.
  •  In USA, 1 in every 2000 individuals dies due to air pollution. And 10 out of 15 of the world’s most polluted cities in the world are from India. Air pollution in China causes death of 4000 individuals every day. 7 million people globally die due to increase in carbon emissions and air pollution.
  •  The major problem is in the fact that we can generate pollution for free, without being accountable for it.
  •  There is need to bring down the cost of renewable infrastructure. There is at present an ‘economic invisibility’ for biodiversity and forests.
  •  There has been a change in attitude that many private firms are using climate change concerns for decision-making. Overall emission rates in the UK and US has reduced significantly, but the progress of emission reduction globally is still not enough to meet the ‘Paris Agreement’ standards.
  •  The problem today is in ‘accelerating’ ecological change, not starting it.

Key Points in Panel Discussion:

Panel Members: Namita Vikas (Group President & MD, Climate Strategy & Responsible Banking), Praveen Pardeshi (Principal Secretary, Office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra), Lord Nicholas Stern (IG Patel Professor & LSE, Chair - Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy), Naina Lal Kidwai (former Head of HSBC India), Usha Thorat (former Dy. Governor RBI & Governing Board of Bombay Natural History Society) and Bittu Sahgal (Editor - Sanctuary Asia).

  •  If agricultural productivity is done right in India, then the rural community will likely be discouraged to extract and use forest resources.
  •  Four areas need action from Government for carbon emission reduction:
    •  Accurate pricing of Water and Land Use
    •  Accurate pricing of Power/Energy Use
    •  Promotion of Public Transport and discouraging of Private Transport
    •  Better Sanitation
  •  Predictions: Bangladesh will face an issue of water scarcity due to the excessive salinization of its water resources. And this will impact India as well in an administrative viewpoint as well as in resource distribution. Similar problems related to natural resource depletion are bound to occur globally.
  •  Recommendations:
    •  Increase promotion of green products/services by Financial Sector
    •  Improving Irrigation, Crop Insurance and Community Markets – for Climate Change Mitigation
    •  Smart Metering Systems for accounting use of power, water and other resource consumption
    •  Better Waste Management/Segregation & Degraded Land Restoration Strategies

 

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