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Stern: UK flooding is clear sign of climate change

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Leading economist Nicholas Stern has warned that the government must act now to ensure the country becomes more resilient to the effects of climate change

The author of the landmark 2006 UK government report on the effects of global warming and its impact on the economy has said that the current flooding which has hit many areas of the UK is a ‘clear sign that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change’.

Thousands of homes remain submerged following the wettest January in 250 years, with 16 severe flood warnings still in place in southern England.

Four of the five wettest years, and the seven warmest years have been recorded since 2000.  

He warned that the risks of global warming are even bigger than he realised in his initial report. Since Stern produced his seminal report back in 2006, annual greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase, and their impacts have started to happen more quickly.

Writing in a column for The Guardian, he added: ‘The government will also have to ensure the country becomes more resilient to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided, including by investing greater sums in flood defences.

‘Delay is dangerous. Inaction could be justified only if we could have great confidence that the risks posed by climate change are small. But that is not what 200 years of climate science is telling us. The risks are huge.’

Previous story (AJ 28.01.13)

Stern: Climate change could be worse than expected

Nicholas Stern said he should have been ‘more blunt’ about the effects of global warming and its impact on the economy

Author of the landmark 2006 UK government report on the effects of climate change on the economy, the economist and academic said he feared the impact of a rise in temperature could be worse than he initially predicted.

The original report predicted global temperature increases of more than 2° by 2035 and is attributed by many for driving today’s climate change policies.

Speaking in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Stern said the world was ‘on track for something like 4° [of global warming].’

His 2006 report stated that attempts to stabilise global emissions would cost 1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). The research also warned thatextreme weather could reduce GDP by up to 1 per cent.

In an interview with The Guardian he said: ‘Looking back, I underestimated the risks. The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.’

Stern called for more to be done to force societies to look to more environmentally sustainable economies.

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