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  • Published: 29 July 2016
  • ISBN: 9780262529983
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $90.00

Why Are We Waiting?

The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change



An urgent case for climate change action that forcefully sets out, in economic, ethical, and political terms, the dangers of delay and the benefits of action.

The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. A committed and strong low-carbon transition could trigger a new wave of economic and technological transformation and investment, a new era of global and sustainable prosperity. Why, then, are we waiting? In this book, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it has been so difficult to tackle climate change effectively. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.

Stern argues that the risks and costs of climate change are worse than estimated in the landmark Stern Review in 2006—and far worse than implied by standard economic models. He reminds us that we have a choice. We can rely on past technologies, methods, and institutions—or we can embrace change, innovation, and international collaboration. The first might bring us some short-term growth but would lead eventually to chaos, conflict, and destruction. The second could bring about better lives for all and growth that is sustainable over the long term, and help win the battle against worldwide poverty. The science warns of the dangers of neglect; the economics and technology show what we can do and the great benefits that will follow; an examination of the ethics points strongly to a moral imperative for action. Why are we waiting?

An urgent case for climate change action that forcefully sets out, in economic, ethical, and political terms, the dangers of delay and the benefits of action.

The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. A committed and strong low-carbon transition could trigger a new wave of economic and technological transformation and investment, a new era of global and sustainable prosperity. Why, then, are we waiting? In this book, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it has been so difficult to tackle climate change effectively. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.

Stern argues that the risks and costs of climate change are worse than estimated in the landmark Stern Review in 2006—and far worse than implied by standard economic models. He reminds us that we have a choice. We can rely on past technologies, methods, and institutions—or we can embrace change, innovation, and international collaboration. The first might bring us some short-term growth but would lead eventually to chaos, conflict, and destruction. The second could bring about better lives for all and growth that is sustainable over the long term, and help win the battle against worldwide poverty. The science warns of the dangers of neglect; the economics and technology show what we can do and the great benefits that will follow; an examination of the ethics points strongly to a moral imperative for action. Why are we waiting?

  • Published: 29 July 2016
  • ISBN: 9780262529983
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $90.00

About the author

Nicholas Stern

Nicholas Stern was Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003. He is currently the I.G. Patel Chair at the London School of Economics, heading the new India Observatory within the Asia Research Centre. He also chairs the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. He has served as the Second Permanent Secretary to Her Majesty's Treasury, the Director of Policy and Research for the Prime Minister's Commission for Africa, and the head of the Government Economic Service in the UK.

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