Lord Stern: net zero pursuit "biggest transformation in the global economy" in peacetime

Energy & Climate Change

On the 15th anniversary of the publication of the report The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review Professor Lord Nicholas Stern will say today (October 26th) that the global drive to reach net zero emissions marks "the biggest and most fundamental transformation in the global economy that has ever occurred during peacetime".

Speaking at the London School of Economics and Political Science ahead of COP26 Lord Stern, who is chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, will argue that a move away from fossil fuel and towards decarbonisation can go hand in hand with economic growth and development.

He will say: “This will not be a narrow horse race between economic growth and decarbonisation. The new and cleaner investment and innovation can drive sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth. This growth will be more resource-efficient, more productive, and healthier, and will offer greater protection to our biodiversity.

"The new challenge is how to foster greater innovation and creativity, and to recognise and create the key mechanisms and dynamics of change.”

He will also go on to chart progress, or lack thereof, of the bid to reduce emissions since the report's publication in 2006 and 2019. He will note the contradiction in the fact that "science has become ever more worrying", with emissions cited as increasing by almost 20 per cent during this period, "while technology has become more promising".

He belives this gulf is largely due to "the misconception that climate action requires a trade-off with economic development and growth", with "many economic assessments and analyses fail[ing] to capture the full range of benefits from the transition to a sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy".

Stern will also argue "that it's time for economics and economists to step up", challenging economists to think about imaginative solutions to help to tackle the climate crisis that move beyond economic theory "that policy should be overwhelmingly about a carbon price".

Lord Stern writes of the climate challenge: “The task requires expertise ranging across the entirety of our subject and, indeed, collaboration with other disciplines. And an engagement by our profession in a way beyond what we have seen so far."

Professor Stern is speaking at a hybrid in-person and online event at 6.30pm at LSE tonight, chaired by Baroness Shafik.

Read more:

Five key takeaways from the government's new Net Zero Strategy

Net zero in seven steps: report sets out cross-cutting reccomendations for policymakers

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