So bad it will be good! Global warming report will scare countries to action, says UN review head
Lord Stern encouraged by signs that China and US finally intend to reduce emissions
The United Nations IPCC report on climate change will present such compelling scientific evidence that humans are responsible for global warming that governments around the world will respond by introducing ambitious legally-binding targets to reduce their carbon emissions, Lord Stern predicts.
Lord Stern, the author of the hugely influential Stern Review into the financial implications of climate change, said he had been greatly encouraged by recent signs from key carbon emitters such as China and the US that they finally intend to take firm action to reduce their emissions of the greenhouse gases that are largely responsible for warming the climate.
Furthermore, he believes many countries will redouble their efforts following the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on Friday, which will declare with 95 per cent certainty that human-related greenhouse gas emissions are the principal cause of global warming.
The IPPC report will make clear that the risks from climate change are "immense", said Lord Stern, adding that it will nonetheless underestimate the true scale of the risks posed by global warming. This is because areas such as the methane emissions associated with melting permafrost, or ground ice, in the Antarctic, and the warming Arctic seabed are not sufficiently well-understood to yet be included in climate models, he said.
However, he is becoming increasingly confident that the world can mobilise itself to take dramatic, co-ordinated action.
Lord Stern, who has not worked on the forthcoming report but has been briefed on its contents by some of the key scientists involved, said: "Following the publication of the IPCC report… I would expect more countries to follow the example set by the UK and to introduce domestic legislation to create the necessary commitment to reduce emissions in line with the goal of avoiding global warming of more than 2C."
He was referring to the UK's Climate Change Act 2008, introduced by the previous Labour government, which set a legally-binding target for the country to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. This is the broadly in line with the cut that needs to be seen globally to give the world a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 2C - the level beyond which the consequences become increasingly devastating.
"Many countries, including the biggest emitters, are increasing action against climate change and not waiting for an international agreement. Not only do they recognise the huge risks created by unmanaged climate change, but they see the big economic opportunities presented by the transition to low-carbon growth and development," Lord Stern said, adding that these actions would, in turn, "reinforce movement towards an international agreement".
Lord Stern is particularly excited by developments in China, the world's biggest carbon dioxide producer. This is because the country has given signals recently that it may look to start bringing down its carbon emissions from 2025 - rather than from 2030 as many had predicted - and that it could begin to reduce its coal use as soon as 2020. He is also hopeful that China could for the first time announce an emissions reduction target within the next few years. Ethiopia and Mexico are also making significant progress towards reducing their carbon footprint, Lord Stern said.
Lord Stern also criticised the coalition for putting off potential investors in Britain's energy sector by "undermining the credibility" of its targets in the Climate Change Act.
He cites the "lack of willingness" to have a target to green, or "decarbonise" Britain's electricity supply and well-documented battles between the Treasury, Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as examples of government behaviour that is putting off investors.
Asked about the value of climate sceptics, he said: "It would be extraordinary and unscientific to argue that you are confident that the risks of climate change are small… That would be an astonishing statement to make given the science of the past 200 years."
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
The sound of Goodfellas mafioso Frankie Carbone demanding $250m in “damages” would be chilling enough on film, let alone in real life.
Brazilian wandering spider: Where are they from and how deadly are they?
35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
The 10 best folding bikes
Saharan sun could provide energy for UK homes in £8bn plan to build 100 sq km solar farm - and a very long power cable
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...
£40 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experience SEN Te...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: ICT/Business Studies ...
£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...