The Costs Of Tackling Or Not Tackling Anthropogenic Global Warming
Michael Cunningham , Climate Etc. There are many issues of debate about global warming. Has there been warming this century? Will there be further warming? If so, will the cause be anthropogenic or other? What will be the impacts, both positive and negative? Should we take action to reduce emissions? How might we proceed, and what are the costs and benefits of various approaches?
These issues are of enormous economic and political significance, given claims of “catastrophic” outcomes and that many emissions-offsetting policies are very costly, involve large-scale structural change and would divert resources from other priorities.
The UK Government commissioned a study into the Economics of Climate Change by Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economic Service and Adviser to the Government on the economics of climate change and development. Stern’s 2006 paper has been severely criticized by both scientists and economists, but continues to be influential in many countries and remains the basis for UK policy. This continuing influence of Stern’s work has prompted a rebuttal by UK MP Peter Lilley. Lilley has degrees in Natural Science and Economics from Cambridge, has worked as a development economist and investment analyst specialising in energy industries and held economic Ministerial posts from 1987-97. His paper is published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
The rebuttal is not a “denialist” paper. Richard Tol notes in his Foreword that “there is an economic case for greenhouse gas emission reduction. We cannot be certain that greenhouse gas emissions do not cause climate change. We cannot be certain that climate change is harmless. In fact, most evidence points in the opposite direction.” In order to focus exclusively on the economics, Lilley’s paper – like the Stern Review – takes the IPCC’s assessment as given. Rather, Lilley says,
“This study simply challenges Stern’s economic methods and conclusions – and shows that his Review was an exercise not in evidence-based policy making but in policy-based evidence making.”
This post on Climate Etc is an assessment of Lilley’s paper. As the paper has about 100 pages and is accessible to the non-specialist, I’ll not go into too much depth here – if you want to go deeper into the reasoning and supporting evidence and argument, please check the original then raise questions/comments on CE if necessary. [Page numbers in brackets]