A report commissioned by the British government and scheduled for release today calls for substantial international cooperation to combat global warming and doubling public spending on research into low-carbon technologies.
The main findings of the 16-month study, led by Nicholas Stern, the chief of Britain’s economic service, were described over the weekend in several British news reports.
The Reuters news agency quoted the report’s 27-page summary as saying, “The evidence gathered by the review leads to a simple conclusion: the benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs.”
The Observer, a British newspaper, reported that the study cited a figure of 3.68 trillion pounds (about $6.98 trillion) as the cost to society of failing to start curbs on global warming within a decade.
The report, prepared for Tony Blair, the prime minister, and Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, has been heavily promoted by Britain and environmental groups as one of the most authoritative reviews of climate costs, although some economists and energy experts at anti-regulatory research groups saw it as understating the cost of an accelerated transition away from the fossil fuels that provide nearly 90 percent of the world’s energy today.
Reuters quoted the report, called the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, as saying that if emissions are not cut and temperatures rise as many scientists project, among various impacts, melting glaciers would threaten one-sixth of the world’s population by rising sea levels and drying up river sources.
The study estimated that the cost of cutting emissions in 2050 to 60 percent to 80 percent below 1990 levels would be about 1 percent of total global economic activity by then, Reuters and the Observer said.
If emissions cannot be cut to those levels, the cost from climatic impacts could be five to 20 times higher, the Observer reported the study as saying.