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  • Global warming, economic cooling?

    A report on the economics of climate change is really about politics and the need to persuade America to offer leadership on the issue

     

    SIR NICHOLAS STERN, the head of the British Government Economic Service, has produced the world’s first big report on the economics of climate change. But his 700-page effort, although stuffed with figures, is not really about economics. It is about politics—the politics of getting America to lead a global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.

    The purpose of Sir Nicholas’s report—commissioned by Tony Blair—is to deal with the argument of people who accept that climate change is happening, but who say that trying to do anything about it would be a waste of money. This argument is heard occasionally in Europe and frequently in America, where, for added potency, it is combined with the notion that European attempts to tax carbon are part of a conspiracy by socialists determined to undermine the American way of life.

    Sir Nicholas’s argument is that, far from undermining the American way of life, attempts to mitigate climate change may help preserve it. He argues this by setting the costs of allowing climate change to happen against the costs of mitigating climate change.

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