Lord Stern Unveils His Plan For Global Green Recovery

14 April 2009

Special Carbon News Report

At the German Embassy in London on Monday 30th March the influential economist Nicholas Stern – who wrote the Stern Report on the financial implications of climate change, unveiled his latest report in collaboration with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

Called Towards a Global Green Recovery, it is aimed at influencing the G20 leaders to lay the foundations of a sustainable recovery by supporting green technologies and markets.

The main points that the report wants the financial stimulus to be aimed at are

  • Increasing Energy Efficiency. G20 countries should initiate and extend programmes that provide loans to home owners and SMEs for boosting efficiency in buildings and also higher energy efficiency standards should be enforced in appliances
  • Upgrading Physical Infrastructure. The countries should undertake investments in electricity grid upgrades and extensions, public transportation, integrated freight transport systems and C02 pipelines for carbon capture and storage projects.
  • Supporting clean technology markets. G20 countries should facilitate the financing of clean-technology projects.
  • Initiating flagship projects G20 members should initiate large-scale demonstration projects for carbon capture and storage (CCS), concentrated solar power, biofuels, power storage and integrated hydrogen systems, and establish research communities to support such projects jointly.
  • Enhancing international research and development. G20 countries should at least triple their total spending on R & D related to environmental projects.
  • Incentivising investment G20 members should provide a strong commitment to pricing carbon across all sectors and regions in order to trigger follow-up investments by the private sector and strengthen incentives to invest in technologies and processes that lock in low-carbon production.
  • Coordinating G20 efforts. The G20 should reaffirm their commitment to an open trading system and specialised Energy and Climate advisors should be appointed to co-ordinate between member countries.

The post Kyoto climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009 was very much on Lord Stern's mind as he addressed the meeting. He saw the challenges facing the world as threefold: Poverty, Climate Change and the Economic Crisis. He pointed out that if we did not alleviate poverty, and pull the worlds poorest people up to a better standard of living, attempts to mitigate the other two problems would not succeed. He called for a 2 trillion dollar financial stimulus package over the next 18 months, and wanted 400 billion dollars of that to be earmarked for green investments.

He also wanted to halt deforestation and transition to low-carbon sustainable growth economy. He warned the meeting that the world was on course to reach 450 ppm of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases in only six years. He thought since his Stern Report in 2006 our situation had got worse.

For the first time he stated that Kingsnorth coal-fired power station should not be built without carbon capture and storage technology (CCS). He called for 20-30 commercial scale demonstration CCS plants to be built across Europe to ensure that the technology would work at an industrial scale. The UK would need to finance and build two or three of these. He views CCS as an essential technology as developing nations such as China and India are heavily reliant on coal-generated electricity, and half the world's electricity comes from coal, so we cannot become a low carbon economy without CCS.

He also praised bottom-up initiatives such as Transition Towns and Woking Council's reduction of their carbon emissions by 77%.

Lord Stern's new book, Blueprint for a Safer Planet is released on 2nd April and will be reviewed in the next edition of Carbon News.

Towards a Global Green Recovery


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