The economist and academic made the claims at the RIBA last night (25 November) – two years after publishing his no-holds-barred report on climate change.
Stern argued the credit crunch and the world’s environmental problems could ‘be solved together with a [new] low carbon economy’ which would put the brakes on emissions and ‘not growth.’
He said: ‘The economic crisis is bigger than any living economist has seen. The planetary crisis is even bigger.
‘[But this] crisis is an opportunity to retool the economy.’
He added: ‘Historians will look back and view the low carbon economy on the same light as the railroads, the motor car and IT.’
Stern suggested a series of measures, led by central government, to reduce carbon emissions from the current 10 - 12 tonnes per capita in the UK to his ‘ideal’ two tonnes.
He said: ‘We need more activist government policy than just setting price. [The architectural profession] needs sticks and carrots.
‘We need to charge for greenhouse gas emissions, price properly for water and charge for roads and airports.
He added: ‘The pre-Budget report had a bit on insulation and a bit on fuel. But we need more.’
Stern has recently returned to the London School of Economics, after spending time at the Treasury, to head up the newly created Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
Stern's powerpoint presentation is attached to this article.
Stern at RIBA: crisis calls for low-carbon economy