Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stern ahead!

The man who turned climate change into a mainstream economic issue flies in to Canberra Wednesday morning to brief both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader and appear at the National press Club...

Sir Nicholas Stern, a British Treasury economist, is the author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, presented to the Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair last October.

It found that unless action was taken to limit climate change in the next few years, after about a century the annual cost would exceed 5 per cent of global income, most of it borne by the world’s poorest people.

By contrast it found that the cost of taking action would amount to just 1 per cent of annual global income.

The report found that market mechanisms such as carbon trading were the least-economically damaging means of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

In the wake of the report the Australian Prime Minister John Howard set up a taskforce to examine emissions trading. Most of the submissions it has received from resource and energy companies have been positive. It is due to report at the end of April.

In contrast to the Britain’s Treasury, Australia’s has not examined the economic impact of climate change.

The official in charge of macroeconomic policy, David Parker, told the Senate economic committee in February that climate change was “an issue of potential relevance in the future, but hitherto it has not been something which has been a large feature of macroeconomic development”.

Other issues with potential future impacts are being examined by the Treasury. On Monday the Treasurer Peter Costello will launch the Treasury’s latest intergenerational report, updating figures on the economic impact of aging.

After addressing the press club at lunch today Sir Nicholas will meet the Prime Minister John Howard and the Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull and then the Opposition Leader and frontbenchers including the Shadow Minister for Environment Peter Garrett.

The Opposition will hold its own climate change summit in Parliament House on Saturday.

Among those taking part are Sir Rod Eddington, the head of Labor’s Business Advisory Council, Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty, , Climate change specialist and Reserve Bank Board member Professor Warwick McKibbin of the Australian National University, and Charlie Lenegan, the Managing Director of Rio Tinto Australia.