Stern words for climate change and development

Made famous by the epynomous report on climate change, Sir Nicholas Stern spoke recently on the need to reframe the climate change debate through the lens of development. He said that the two were tied at the hip. Here is the video.

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Here is an excerpt taken from the speech:

Development and climate change are the two big issues of the 21st Century. And unless we tackle them together we will fail on both of them. Climate change, if it goes on unmanaged will undermine development. Any response to climate change which appears to stall development will fail. It will fail politically and it will deserve to fail. Unless we tackle them both together we are not going to be successful on either…Now, how does all this work? Well, climate change starts with people and it ends in people. [Source: Global Development: Views from the Center]

My 2-cents after the jump …

TC-I has written on this complex if not conflicting relationship in the past (go here and here; or click here to see all climate change related posts), and I cannot help but agree with Sir Stern’s sentiments. The problem is simply too large to address without the coordinated effort of every major player in the global world order.

However, imploring developing nations to participate is easier said than done, as issues like cost, poverty and stifling growth all come to the fore. Ironically, I believe that the current piecemeal approach that both the Indian government has taken with regard to its own plan (see Tidbits below; also check out this guest post) will actually result in greater costs and growth impairment than a cohesive and cooperative international approach.

The issue here is scale — scale that can fundamentally disrupt the way the entire world consumes resources and utilizes exhaustible sources of energy. One only has to look at the innovative work of organizations like the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and its deal with hybrid buses in major cities throughout the world. You can read more here. By effectively banding together the 40 largest cities in the world to pledge a certain number of bus orders, CCI instantly made it economical for hybrid bus startups to ramp up production and thus lower costs and prices. This approach is one that the Clinton Foundation had tested with AIDS retro viral drugs, but the cost-benefits are applicable elsewhere as well.

But even such efforts like these will not be enough unless all major emitters are on the same page. The economies of scale necessary to truly address climate change is beyond our current scope of comprehension and until we do achieve that level, we will always be teetering on the brink of disaster.

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