The Global Deal
Book by Nicholas Stern
Review by Adam Zoltowski
Issue 3 Spring 2010
Climate change is not something that can be solved by one nation alone. It will only be solved, argues Nicholas Stern, through a concerted effort of all nations both developed and developing. Stern, a British Baron, academic and economist, first made the argument put forth in his book The Global Deal in his 2006 report, The Stern Review on Climate Change in which he made the case for early, unified action on the issue of climate change. In that report and his new book, he makes the case that the cost of acting immediately would be very low compared to the economic costs of inaction. Stern has distilled his earlier report into a digestible 225 pages while keeping the most important parts intact. Most importantly, he reframes the climate change issue as an economic one, one in which there are measurable costs to vested nations.
Stern argues that cooperation is necessary, because as already developed countries such as the United States and the European Union begin to reduce their carbon emissions, developing countries are only getting started in their use of high carbon technologies. Stern proposes several measures to balance the developed world’s need to stay efficient and economically strong while reducing their use of carbon with the developing world’s continuously growing economies. His recommendations include carbon pricing, taxes and other offset schemes. Stern estimates that if a concerted effort were taken it would cost around 2% of global GDP, whereas the economic costs of not taking action would be around 5% of total GDP over the next half century.
Considering today’s economic and global climate, this is an essential book for people concerned with the intersections of environment and the economy. Stern is incredibly optimistic in his hope that a “deal” can be reached on such a large issue, which is a welcome and refreshing perspective on such an apocalyptic topic. As evidenced in Copenhagen last December, a global agreement is going to be hard to reach, but it is essential if we hope to solve the problem of climate change. Stern makes the case for this global deal and why it is the only course that will succeed in optimistic, yet realistic terms.