March 12, 2009 Copenhagen, Denmark
Excerpt from Professor Lord Nicolas Stern’s plenary address at the Climate Conference:
“This is about a choice between patterns of development which look extremely different… these are about very different kind of choices so we have to bring the right kind of economics to bear…
The third feature of this story is that it is a flow stock problem, the flows each year build up into stocks, and the stocks of greenhouse gasses trap the heat and cause the problem of climate change. That of course is a very big part of the story, and it comes directly from the simple science of the story.
But it tells us some very powerful lessons for economics as well here, it tells us the costs of delay are very big. This is not a WTO negotiotiation which if it falls apart one year you pick it up again five years later and your more or less in the same position that you were before.
If you delay this one, because its a flow stock process, the stocks build up and you start in a significantly worse position with a five or ten year delay. Now these are all very powerful lessons for economic analysis from the simple structure of the science, and those are what we have to take on board if were translating the economics into policy.”