Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Low-carbon Path Offers Way Out Of Downturn, Says HSBC Adviser

Kandy Wong, SCMP – Updated on Oct 28, 2008

The current economic crisis should not be an excuse to delay implementing low-carbon-emissions policies, according to Lord Nicholas Stern.

Rather, he said, it was the time to lay the foundations for tackling global warming.

“The transition to a low-carbon growth path will lead to numerous new opportunities across a wide range of businesses and industries,” said Lord Stern, a former chief economist for the World Bank and now a special adviser for HSBC’s economic development and climate change group.

That was why, he said at a press briefing yesterday in Hong Kong, he was confident countries and companies would launch carbon-reduction programmes even amid the current global crisis.

Big retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores and Tesco of Britain were concerned about the energy used throughout their supply chain, he said. Eventually, Tesco would label products with the amount of emissions in their making.

“This is the way the market is going,” Lord Stern said.

According to figures from the United States Energy Information Administration, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations climbed 2.2 parts per million last year to 383 ppm.

The agency also found that since 2000 carbon dioxide levels had risen 2 ppm annually, compared with 1.5 ppm during the 1990s and 1.6 ppm in the 1980s.

Lord Stern said the “transformation to a global low-carbon economy is one way through the economic downturn … on to a more sustainable growth path for the future”.

It is estimated that the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions will reach 31.1 billion tonnes by 2010, up from 28.1 billion tonnes in 2005.

“There was a three-day extended discussion last week in Beijing about carbon emissions and low-carbon growth,” Lord Stern said. “The European leaders will get on with lowering emissions” while the US and China will also take action in the next months, he said.

Leaders from Asia and Europe agreed there should be new regulations for carbon reduction, new market prices for carbon and higher prices for high-carbon emission products.

In 2006, Lord Stern’s publication, the Stern Review, estimated that the overall cost of climate change will range from 5 per cent to 20 per cent of gross domestic product if actions are not taken to reduce carbon emissions.

On the other hand, he indicated that taking strong action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would cost about 1 per cent of GDP annually.

“I believe the challenges of the financial crisis for Britain and the United States may last for one to two years more. But, regardless, governments in different countries are taking actions to boost the [sustainable] economy,” Lord Stern said yesterday.

World leaders have agreed to cut overall carbon emissions by 50 per cent globally by 2050.

Comments are closed.