Risks of Global Warming Greater Than Financial Crisis - Stern

Article excerpt

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The risks of inaction over climate change far outweigh the turmoil of the global financial crisis, a leading climate change expert said, while calling for new fiscal spending tailored to low carbon growth.

"The risk consequences of ignoring climate change will be very much bigger than the consequences of ignoring risks in the financial system," said Nicholas Stern, a former British Treasury economist, who released a seminal report in 2006 that said inaction on emissions blamed for global warming could cause economic pain equal to the Great Depression.

"That's a very important lesson, tackle risk early," Stern told a climate and carbon conference in Hong Kong. As countries around the world move from deploying monetary and financial stabilization measures, to boosting fiscal spending to mend real economies, Stern said the opportunity was there to bring about a new, greener, carbon-reducing world order.

"The lesson that we can draw out from this recession, is that you can boost demand in the best way possible by focusing on low carbon growth in future," Stern said, including greater public spending on mass public transport, energy and green technologies.

Stern's warning comes on the heels of last week's Asia-Europe or ASEM meeting in Beijing, where China indicated in talks it was committed to seeking a climate change pact in vital end-game talks in Copenhagen at the end of next year.

Leaders at the summit also urged countries not to use global economic upheaval as a reason for delaying a deal. …