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World Economics
The Journal of Current Economic Analysis and Policy

The Stern Review: A Dual Critique
   Authors’ Introduction

   Part I: The Science
   Robert M. Carter, C. R. de Freitas, Indur M. Goklany,
   David Holland & Richard S. Lindzen


   Part II: Economic Aspects
   Ian Byatt, Ian Castles, Indur M. Goklany, David Henderson,
   Nigel Lawson, Ross McKitrick, Julian Morris, Alan Peacock,
   Colin Robinson & Robert Skidelsky


The Stern Review, described as the most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change, was published on 30 October 2006. The twin papers from a combined team of scientists and economists present a critique in two parts of the Stern Review. Part I focuses on scientific issues and their treatment in the Review. It forms the point of departure for Part II which deals with economic aspects. Each paper has its own list of authors. In relation to both scientific and economic issues, the authors question the accuracy and completeness of the Stern Review’s analysis and the objectivity of its treatment. They conclude that the Review fails to present an accurate picture of scientific understanding of climate change issues, and will reinforce ill-informed alarm about climate change. Two interrelated features of the Stern Review are that it greatly understates the extent of uncertainty as to possible developments, in highly complex systems that are not well understood, over a period of two centuries or more; and its treatment of sources and evidence is persistently selective and biased. These twin features have combined to make the Review a vehicle for speculative alarmism. In the judgement of the authors of the Dual Critique, the Stern Review mishandles data; gives too little attention to actual observation and evidence, as distinct from the results of model-based exercises; and takes no account of the failures of due disclosure, and the chronic limitations of peer reviewing, that have been characteristic of work relating to climate change which governments have commissioned and drawn on. As to specifically economic aspects, the authors note among other weaknesses that the Review systematically overstates projected costs of climate change, partly though by no means wholly as a result of its failure to acknowledge the scope for long-term adaptation to possible global warming; underestimates the likely cost—including to the world’s poor—of the drastic global mitigation programme that it calls for; and proposes worldwide adoption of a specially low rate of interest for discounting the costs and benefits of mitigation, on the basis of inadequate analysis and without regard for the problems and risks that would result. So far from being an authoritative guide to the economics of climate change, the Stern Review is deeply flawed. It does not provide a basis for informed and responsible policies.

Sir Ian Byatt is Chairman of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, a Senior Associate with Frontier Economics and an Honorary Professor at Birmingham University. He was previously Director General of Water Services (OFWAT) and, before that, Deputy Economic Adviser to HM Treasury.

Bob Carter is a palaeontologist, stratigrapher, marine geologist and environmental scientist with degrees from the University of Otago (NZ; BSc Hons) and Cambridge University (UK; PhD). He has held staff positions at the University of Otago (Dunedin) and James Cook University (Townsville), where he was Head of the School of Earth Sciences 1981–1999 and an Adjunct Research Professor thereafter. He has published research papers on climate change, sea-level change, palaeontology and stratigraphy, based on field studies of Cenozoic sediments from the Australasian region and supported by grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC). In 1998, he was Co-Chief Scientist on Ocean Drilling Leg 181, Southwest Pacific Gateways, a cruise that made fundamental contributions to our knowledge of climate change in southern mid-latitudes.

Ian Castles is a former Head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and is currently a Visiting Fellow in the Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University, Canberra.

Chris de Freitas is a climate scientist in the School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Auckland, where he has been Head of Science and Technology at the Tamaki campus and Pro Vice Chancellor. He has Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Toronto and a PhD from the University of Queensland as a Commonwealth Scholar. For 10 years he was as an editor of the international journal Climate Research. He is an advocate of open and well-informed reporting on scientific issues. In recognition of this, he has three times been the recipient of the New Zealand Association of Scientists' Science Communicator Award.

Indur M. Goklany is a science and technology policy analyst at the US Department of the Interior. In 30-plus years in government, think tanks, and the private sector, he has written three books and over a hundred monographs, book chapters and papers on topics ranging from climate change, human well-being, and technological change to biotechnology, sustainable development and adaptation. He represented the US at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and at the negotiations leading to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. He was the principal author of the Resource Use and Management Subgroup report in the IPCC’s First Assessment. In the 1980s, he managed EPA’s fledgling emission trading program before that became popular. His degrees are in Electrical Engineering (B.Tech, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; M.S., Ph.D., Michigan State University).

David Henderson is a former Head of the Economics and Statistics Department of the OECD, and is currently a Visiting Professor at the Westminster Business School, London.

David Holland is an engineer, and a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He has followed the scientific debate over the human contribution to global warming for many years and submitted written evidence to the 2005 House of Lords Enquiry into the Economics of Climate Change.

Lord Lawson of Blaby is a former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, and is currently a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs.

Richard S. Lindzen has been the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1983. Prior to his present position, he held professorships at Harvard and the University of Chicago. His A.B., S.M. and Ph.D. are from Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union. He is the recipient of various awards, and has served on numerous committees and panels, including service as a lead author for the IPCC Third Assessment Report. He is the author or coauthor of three books and over 200 papers. His current research is on climate sensitivity, atmospheric convection and on the general circulation of the atmosphere.

Ross McKitrick is Associate Professor of Economics at Guelph University, Ontario, Canada, and has written extensively on issues relating to climate change. He was one of twelve experts from around the world asked to present evidence to the US National Academy of Sciences Expert Panel on Millennial Paleoclimate Reconstructions. He is the joint author (with Chris Essex) of Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming (Key Porter Books), the second edition of which will soon be published.

Julian Morris is Executive Director of the International Policy Network in London and a Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham.

Sir Alan Peacock is Honorary Professor of Public Finance at Heriot-Watt University and a former Chief Economic Adviser to the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry.

Colin Robinson is Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Surrey, and is a recipient of the International Association for Energy Economics award for ‘Outstanding Contributions to the Profession of Energy Economics and its Literature’.

Lord Skidelsky is Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, and author of the award-winning biography of John Maynard Keynes. He is currently a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs.


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