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Stern Says Recession Could Spur Future Low Carbon Growth

October 27, 2008

A leading climate change expert on Monday called for a new fiscal spending plan tailored to low carbon growth.

“The risk consequences of ignoring climate change will be very much bigger than the consequences of ignoring risks in the financial system,” said Nicholas Stern, a former British Treasury economist, who released a seminal report in 2006 that said inaction on emissions blamed for global warming could cause economic pain equal to the Great Depression.

“That’s a very important lesson, tackle risk early,” Stern told a climate and carbon conference in Hong Kong.

Stern said that in light of the struggling world economy, current conditions provide the potential for creating a new, greener, carbon-reducing world order.

“The lesson that we can draw out from this recession, is that you can boost demand in the best way possible by focusing on low carbon growth in future,” Stern said, including greater public spending on mass public transport, energy and green technologies.

At last week’s Asia-Europe (ASEM) meeting in Beijing, China indicated in talks it was committed to seeking a climate change pact in vital end-game talks in Copenhagen at the end of next year.

Leaders at the summit also urged countries not to use global economic upheaval as a reason for delaying a deal. Partly as a result of the darkening global economic outlook, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi recently warned that 10 other EU nations backed his efforts to block an EU climate plan, prompting further doubts over European action on global warming.

Yet Stern remained optimistic, saying while talks would be “very tense” the likelihood of a deal in Copenhagen to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050 remained “very high.”

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