Global Reaction to the Stern Report

I have mentioned a couple of times over the past week about the report officially issued yesterday by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern on the economic consequences of climate change. Sir Nicholas was charged by Gordon Brown, Tony Blair’s likely successor as leader of the Labour Party, to produce the study in advance of next week’s UN meetings in Nairobi on climate change.

I thought it would be interesting to see some of the reaction globally to the report. The British paper, The Independent, considers it quite portentous. In an article entitled, “The Day that Changed the Climate,” the reporters portray the report’s unveilling in dramatic terms:

Climate change has been made the world’s biggest priority, with the publication of a stark report showing that the planet faces catastrophe unless urgent measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Future generations may come to regard the apocalyptic report by Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank, as the turning point in combating global warming, or as the missed opportunity.

In the Ugandan paper, The New Vision, expatriate Opio Oloya is using the report to suggest an African continental protocol to maintain and protect forested land. He also suggests that a continental protocol could also deal with the unwanted dumping of hazardous waste.

India–like China–was one of the countries who was not required to reduce CO2 emissions under Kyoto and has, in the interim, seen significant economic growth and an expansion of fossil fuel consumption. Naturally, many in India are not excited about what a post-Kyoto agreement will look like. In the Mumbai Daily News and Analysis, a pro-India commentator suggested:

“This is welcome report but we have to point out that India has already been doing a lot in managing climate change issues,” said Manoj Ladwa, MLS Chase India. “India is the 6th largest investor in renewable energy which is much larger than the UK,” he added. The USA emits 5 per cent of world’s emissions and unless they are ready to take the lead in curbing pollution there is no point in asking countries like India to get on board feel Indian analysts.

“India is in the top five of using solar energy, wind energy etc,” explained Ladwa. “It is very hard to ask a farmer in India who has just seen a glimmer of hope in economic development that they should now pay for the mess the west has created in the last 250 years,” he added.

One can understand India’s position when you consider the reaction of some of the more skeptical Western governments. In Australia, rather than changing the opinion of the government, the Stern report seems to have strengthened Prime Minister John Howard’s opposition to Kyoto. The Age is reporting that he told his MPs not to be “mesmerized” by the report. He is willing to sign on to a successor agreement; but only on the condition that India and China are also obligated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Secretary-General of OPEC–the global oil cartel–had the most indignant response. Reuters is reporting that the Secretary-General is stating that the report was unfounded in both economics and science.