A Blueprint for a Safer Planet – Nicholas Stern

I have just finished reading this, and I recommend it highly. It deals clearly and simply with the economic aspects of climat change. It reads as a ‘new readers start here’ of macroeconomics. The tone is never preachy, but it is authoritive,which is to be expected from such an author.

My only quibble is that Stern focuses rather a lot on growth, particularly for developing countries, as a ‘must have’. He can see no argument for developing nations to slow their growth in order to slow their greenhouse gas emission growth. He says that the developing world must have its shot at propserity and we in the developed world have no right to say no to them, even if we could. Whilst I agree that this is perfectly correct from a moral perspective, it rather fails as a strategy for delivering reductions worldwide in the short term. Would China and India prefer to slow their carbon intensive growth if a global climate strategy were to suggest it to them, and make it worth their while?, on the basis that their people are the ones who will suffer most from a failure to act. It seems to be something that is at least worth considering, even if it is unpalatable. If developed nations are willing to pay farmers in Brazil not to raze the rainforest, perhaps we would be willing to pay Indian farmers not to do the same in Orissa.

That aside, and the fact that the book, in paperback at least, is very poorly produced, and hardly illustrated at all, this is an essential read for all policymakers, environmentalists and anyone else who cares.

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