Nicholas Stern

30 January 2013 — While World Bank president Jim Yong Kim says there is “a lot of money to be made in building the technologies and bending the arc of climate change”, UK climate change report author Nicholas Stern has admitted he underestimated global warming.

Kim says if the forecast of a four-degree global increase  – instead of the 2006 estimate by Stern of two or three degrees – proved accurate, there would be the risk of conflicts over natural resources.

“There will be water and food fights everywhere,” he said.

Action was needed to create a carbon market, eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies and “green” the world’s 100 megacities, which were responsible for 60 to 70 per cent of global emissions, he said.

Lord Stern’s UK government-commissioned review on climate change became the reference work for politicians and green campaigners.

But The Guardian newspaper reports that Lord Stern, in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said the planet and the atmosphere seemed to be absorbing less carbon than expected “and emissions are rising pretty strongly”.

“Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then,” he said.

The newspaper reports that The Stern Review, published in 2006, pointed to a 75 per cent chance that global temperatures would rise by between two and three degrees above the long-term average. But Stern now believes it’s more like to be four.

With hindsight, Stern says he would have been “a bit more blunt”.

“This is potentially so dangerous that we have to act strongly. Do we want to play Russian roulette with two bullets or one? These risks for many people are existential.”

Stern also backed the UK’s Climate Change Act, which commits the government to further carbon reduction targets but also called for increased investment in greening the economy.

Read the full story here.

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