The Impacts of Climate Change: Perspectives from the Stern Review

Launched on 30 October 2006, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change has received attention in academic, political, and popular circles worldwide, possibly unprecedented for a government report of its kind.1 The Review was set up to provide the U.K. prime minister and chancellor with a wide-ranging and comprehensive economic assessment of climate change, and was led by Sir Nicholas Stern, adviser to the U.K. government on the economics of climate change and development, head of the U.K. Government Economic Service, and, among other things, a former chief economist for the World Bank. Now nearly 700 pages long, the Review contains a tremendous volume of analysis on all aspects of climate change economics and policy, including the consequences of business-as-usual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as the costs, benefits, and design of policies to reduce these emissions and adapt to climate change that cannot be avoided. It has become best known for the conclusion that, unabated, climate change could eventually have impacts on global economic growth and human development on a scale comparable to the great wars and economic depression of the twentieth century. The Report also found that these impacts can still largely be avoided by a decisive shift away from production of GHGs, a shift which can be achieved with far less cost than we will incur if nothing is done.
While this will come as no surprise to many, the Review sounds a different note to most previous economic analyses despite using the same models as these previous studies.

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