Former US Vice-President Al Gore is to advise the UK Government on the policies needed to slow the affects of climate change. The announcement came at the launch of the Stern Report into global warming that I previewed in my diary yesterday.

The report is considered so significant – described by Blair as the most important he has received during his period as Prime Minister – that he and his probably successor, Gordon Brown, were both at the formal publication announcement.

Tony Blair said the Stern Review showed the scientific evidence of global warming was “overwhelming” and its consequences “disastrous”.

The report said that rich countries must shoulder most of the responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions.

And chancellor Gordon Brown promised the UK would lead the international response to tackle climate change.

The printed Stern Report runs to some 700 pages but the summary and Stern’s presentation at the launch are available in .pdf format from links on the BBC summary.  

As I emphasised yesterday, this is the first analysis of global warming to take into account its future economic impact. Sir Nicholas is a former chief economist at the World Bank. The key bullet points of the report are:

TEMPERATURE

# Carbon emissions have already pushed up global temperatures by half a degree Celsius

# If no action is taken on emissions, there is more than a 75% chance of global temperatures rising between two and three degrees Celsius over the next 50 years

# There is a 50% chance that average global temperatures could rise by five degrees Celsius

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

# Melting glaciers will increase flood risk

# Crop yields will decline, particularly in Africa

# Rising sea levels could leave 200 million people permanently displaced

# Up to 40% of species could face extinction

# Increased examples of extreme weather patterns

ECONOMIC IMPACT

# Extreme weather could reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 1%

# A two to three degrees Celsius rise in temperatures could reduce global economic output by 3%

# If temperatures rise by five degrees Celsius, up to 10% of global output could be lost. The poorest countries would lose more than 10% of their output.

# In the worst case scenario global consumption per head would fall 20%

# To stabilise at manageable levels, emissions would need to stabilise in the next 20 years and fall between 1% and 3% after that. This would cost 1% of GDP.

The later points are the most important. A comparatively small investment now of around 1% of global GDP would stabilise emissions and save reductions of up to 20% of global GDP. Change is happening but could be managed given world-wide effort. The alternatives are even more worrying with the possibility of mass migration from newly unhinhabitable areas and wars for control of the increasingly scare natural resources. If Bush and the fundamentalist neocons want to engineer Armageddon in advance of “the Rapture”, they need assiduously do nothing.

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