Stern Report on Climate Change

January 31st, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

No chance yet to look this over, but the UK Stern Report on Climate Change has released its report, available here. This will surely be discussed a great deal. We’d welcome comments from anyone who has had a chance to look at it.

20 Responses to “Stern Report on Climate Change”

  1. JS Says:

    I think you might be a bit premature on that. They don’t seem to have released their report so much as given a lecture which sets out the questions, hints at the nature of answers but doesn’t in fact seem to be THE report.

    There aren’t really any economic conclusions in the lecture documentation other than the obvious one – it’s complicated.

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  3. Roger Pielke Jr. Says:

    JS- You are correct. It is a report, not the report. Thanks!

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  5. Benny Peiser Says:


    According to this BBC report – -
    the general conclusion of Nick Stern’s Review is “already clear: he is not convinced by the case that by leading the way on CO2 cuts the UK risks damaging the overall economy.” Which is a fair bet on what is generally expected to come out of the whole exercise.

    The only problem is that the UK Department for Trade and Industry doesn’t appear to be too impressed by the current emission targets. In fact, it is trying to minimise them significantly in order to “protect firms’ competitiveness.” My bet is that that this fundamental conflict of interest will be playing out for years to come – and in many countries around the world. It will be interesting to see which policy approach to this inherent economic conflict will prevail.


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  7. Dano Says:

    Context and reading comprehension:

    “Competitiveness is the key. The Chancellor Gordon Brown has asked a leading economist, Nick Stern, to investigate if CO2 cuts will damage an economy or stimulate it.

    His verdict, due in the autumn, will help shape the course of policy in the UK and perhaps worldwide.

    It is already clear he is not convinced by the case that by leading the way on CO2 cuts the UK risks damaging the overall economy. ”

    Yes, it’s clear: it’s not clear that cutting CO2 will damage the economy.

    Really, Benny. Come now. You don’t have readers, do you? If you did, you’d be more rigorous [rigourous].

    And secondarily, why is Benny against competition?



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  9. Roger Pielke Jr. Says:

    Benny- Thanks for this link, interesting, and consistent with the recently released materials.

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  11. Steve Bloom Says:

    Presumably Stern will be (probably already has been) heavily influenced by similar conclusions that have been drawn regarding California. I’m sure Benny finds those objectionable as well, as they fail to fit his ideological template of conflating the long-term public good with the full short-term expression of greed.

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  13. Mark Bahner Says:

    “…conflating the long-term public good with the full short-term expression of greed.”

    And you know what will be a problem for the people of 2100?

    Do you think the people of 1905 in America could have known what was good for the people of 2000 in America?

    And do you think those people in 1905 should have sacrificed to help the people of 2000? If so, in what way–especially what way, environmentally–should the people of 1905 have sacrificed for us in 2000?

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  15. Benny Peiser Says:


    The Financial Times has more on the growing economic and political row regarding Britain’s controversial emission targets

    The most illuminating piece of information comes at the end of the FT article. It reveals that “a recent Mori poll found that although most people supported action on climate change, only 12 per cent were in favour of regulations or taxes to encourage people to use energy more efficiently.”

    Think about it: Despite years of unremitting doom-and-gloom predictions and the incessant media blitz about imminent climate disaster, 9 out of 10 people here in the UK remain decidedly unimpressed about costly actions to avert environmental doomsday. Given the apparent failure of the green “doomsday strategy,” campaigners must be tearing their hair out. Perhaps the time has come for a more realistic and less hysterical approach to climate policy?


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  17. Roger Pielke Jr. Says:


    “Sir Nicholas believes his review, due in the autumn, will discover some of the answers. He said this week: “One of our key tasks is to find out whether you can be green and grow. There are a lot of arguments to suggest this is likely to be possible.”"

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  19. Dano Says:

    Benny spammed:

    “Given the apparent failure of the green “doomsday strategy,” campaigners must be tearing their hair out. Perhaps the time has come for a more realistic and less hysterical approach to climate policy? ”


    Given the current success of the brown “don’t worry, spend more strategy”, campaigners must be clapping themselves on the back.

    There is truth in Benny’s FUD if we look for it. Fortunately many are rethinking the thing, as it is clear people don’t have sensory receptors that allow them to apprehend varying and long time scales, and thus many are unable to calculate the consequences of their actions [thanks for that linky above, Roger, that makes the point].



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  21. Benny Peiser Says:

    Look, Dano

    I understand your frustration about Britain’s short-sighted and ignorant consumers who are only interested in their money. However, it is being reported that the European Commissioner for Science and Research is making significant progress in changing these deplorable attitudes:

    see: “Here’s Europe’s solution to global warming”


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  23. Jim Clarke Says:

    Dano Wrote:

    “…as it is clear people don’t have sensory receptors that allow them to apprehend varying and long time scales, and thus many are unable to calculate the consequences of their actions.”

    Yes, the ignorant masses, is it? So who are the enlightened ones who can calculate the consequences of their actions over varying and long time scales? Who are these geniuses who can fathom the depths of chaotic, coupled, non-linear systems and proclaim prognostigative abilities that defy the very nature of mathematics and the universe? Are they the Paul Erhlichs of the world? Perhaps those that made up the Club of Rome in the 1970s?

    Who is more brilliant, the average Joe who ignored the doom and gloomers for the last 30 years and was proven right, or the doom and gloomers themselves who were stupendously wrong? Is it any wonder the general public is unimpressed by the latest predictions of doom? They have heard it all before and are becoming quite numb to it.

    Perhaps if something bad were actually happening, they would be more attentive. As it is, saying “I’m from the university, I am smarter than you and I am here to regulate your life…” is just not a good way to win friends and influence people. They know better!

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  25. Steve Bloom Says:

    Benny, you’re *such* a clown. It must be some kind of compulsion that makes you keep up the transparent fibbing even though you know you’re going to get caught. Of course pretty much everyone reading this (except Bahner and Clarke) already knows that the FT quote of those poll results was cherry-picked before it even got to you, but in case anyone was wondering about the details, they’re pasted below. The entire results are at From Section 3:

    Preferences for action

    We wished to gauge people’s preferences for action against climate change. In a direct question about whether anything should be done:

    • A clear majority of respondents (62%) indicated that every possible action should be taken about climate change, whilst a further 32% indicated that some action should be taken against climate change. Perhaps surprisingly, only 3% felt no action should be taken.

    We also asked respondents to choose from a list of possible actions for tackling climate change, up to three which they thought would best tackle climate change.

    • Expanding nuclear power was chosen by only 14% of the sample, while continuing fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage by only 12%.

    • A much larger proportion of respondents suggested that the best way to tackle climate change would be to manage demand through behavioural change (69%).

    • The second and third most common responses were to increase the use of renewable sources (68%) and to expand the use of energy-efficiency technologies (54%).

    • Regulation and taxation to reduce consumption was far less popular (12%).

    These data are especially interesting because they indicate not only a lack of preference for nuclear power as a main solution to climate change, but also because they open up the possibility for a wider debate on ‘carbon management’ at the individual or household level.

    Attribution of responsibility, regulation and trust

    The survey asked who should be mainly responsible for taking action against climate change.

    • Most respondents attributed responsibility for change at the global (32%) and national (39%) levels, which is consistent with many other surveys. Responsibility is perceived to lie, very marginally, with individuals and families (8%) or environmental groups (4%).

    These responses may hint at a pragmatic attitude, with which people may be approaching this question. Other quantitative and qualitative research has suggested that whilst acknowledging their own moral contribution towards climate change and duty to address this, people generally feel they are not able to engage in behavioural change unless enabled to do so by institutions with wide ranging powers (Bickerstaff et al., 2006). Another explanation may be that most individuals feel climate change as a global problem may require concerted action first and foremost instigated and driven at national and international scales.


    • Over half of the respondents (57%) disagree that the current rules and regulations are sufficient to address climate change, while only 14% felt confident that the British Government adequately tackles climate change. A majority of respondents (52%) also agree that climate change would happen regardless of how electricity was generated in Britain. Perhaps this could also be interpreted in terms of a negative attitude towards current debates about electricity generation and the uptake of CO2 neutral options in the future.

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  27. Benny Peiser Says:

    And your point is? That the British public is not only selfish but also confused? That the survey itself is inconsistent? That the FT picked a misleading result?

    Let’s face it: British consumers want their cake and eat it. Many want that *every possible action* should be taken about climate change. But. Guess what? They don’t want to pay for these actions themselves. I don’t think the FT was wrong in highlighting this contradiction.

    Bottom line: The British public who have been more exposed to climate alarmism than perhaps any other public remains decidely unwilling to pay the price for current emission targets. Call me what you like, but after a decade of ever more extreme doomsday predictions, I can’t help to find this PR problem rather comical.

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  29. William Connolley Says:

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  31. Mark Bahner Says:

    From William Connolley’s blog post:

    “We argue that a significant likelihood of causing a global sea level rise in the range of 3-5 m over the next few centuries (say, by the year 2300) would constitute a “dangerous interference”,…”

    So the danger isn’t in THIS century, or even necessarily NEXT century, but maybe in the 2200+ time frame?

    Does any group of scientists seriously propose that resources should be diverted from the important problems of the present, to address problems *envisioned* for beyond 2100…let alone beyond 2200??

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  33. Steve Bloom Says:

    Benny, like a recalcitrant puppy you seem to need your nose rubbed in it:

    The poll gave people a list of possible ways to tackle climate change things and asked them to pick three (and only three). The most popular choice was managing demand through behavioural change (69%), followed by increasing the use of renewable sources (68%) and expanding the use of energy-efficiency technologies (54%). I’m a strong advocate of “regulation and taxation to reduce consumption,” but the structure of the poll wouldn’t have reflected that fourth additional preference since I would have made the same three choices made by the majority of respondents. (BTW, I notice you made no mention of the poor showing by the twin scams of expanded nuclear and sequestration.)

    So there is no contradiction whatsoever. Rather, the FT lied by taking cherry-picking that result and you brainlessly aped them.

    Oh, I almost forgot to take a moment to gloat over what you could only have seen as devastating news that Stern has rejected the approach taken by the Enron-tainted Lords report. There.

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  35. Benny Peiser Says:

    I understand your anger, but that is no reason why you should be rude. Look, the British government has made it clear in no uncertain terms that “no-one is going to damage their economy in trying to tackle this problem of the environment. There are ways that we can tackle climate change fully consistent with growing our economies.” British consumers who are responsible for around 50% of greenhouse gas emissions are basically taking a very similar line. The Stern Review has been set up to provide the political rationale for Britain’s new climate policy, a policy in which financial considerations and economic growth take priority over the precautionary principle. So, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

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  37. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    All- A good substantive exchange, though we could probably do without the name calling, Thanks!!

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  39. Dano Says:

    Jim, a number of methods have been developed to help overcome *Homo sapiens’* lack of a sensory organ to apprehend long time scales.

    Use your Google button to find some of them if you can’t think of any.