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CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE STERN REVIEW

November 2, 2006 5:59 PM

The recently published Stern Review came as a stark warning to us all, the message was clear: climate change can no longer be ignored, we must act now.

Any statements made on the effects of climate change now feel somewhat like stating the obvious, there are few who are no longer aware of the consequences of global warming. The scientific evidence which features so prominently in daily press demonstrates that carbon emissions have already begun the steady creep of global warming. Furthermore we have been shown how this gradual increase now is soon likely to speed up to such an extent that we may see a rise in global temperatures of up to 5 degrees Celsius within 50 years.

The impact of this immense increase in the earth's temperature could be huge: flood risks; declines in crop yields; rising sea levels; extreme weather patterns - something we are getting all the more accustomed to seeing; and the loss of many species of animals.

Again I have the impression that these are not new facts to the majority of the world any longer. However where the Stern Review has succeeded in moving this debate on is by reference to the economic effects of these changes. The cost of an increase in global temperatures by 5 degrees would be a loss of up to 10% of global output, Sir Nicholas Stern tells us.

If we are to avert a global meltdown we all need to play a role in reducing our carbon emissions. Small steps such as turning televisions off standby, unplugging unused mobile phone chargers, switching off lights and only using central heating when absolutely necessary can make a major difference. Clean energy supplies will also be crucial in preventing global warming.

The Stern Review has had a big impact in central government and Tony Blair has promised us a replacement to the Kyoto Treaty, which failed to gain the support of major polluters the US and Australia. I hope that the Prime Minister acts swiftly to ensure international solutions to this global problem are agreed, it is only with international action that we will ultimately prevent the catastrophic consequences of climate change.