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Joseph Stiglitz, Aaron Edlin, and J. Bradford DeLong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231143653

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231143653.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Global Climate Change

Global Climate Change

A Challenge to Policy

(p.13) Chapter 2 Global Climate Change
The Economists' Voice

Kenneth J. Arrow

Columbia University Press

In fall 2006, the UK issued a major government report on global climate change directed by top-flight economist Sir Nicholas Stern. The Stern report amounts to a call to action: it argues that huge future costs of global warming can be avoided by incurring relatively modest costs today. Critics of the Stern report do not think serious action to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is justified because there remains substantial uncertainty about the extent of the costs of global climate change and because these costs will be incurred far in the future. This chapter argues that Stern report's conclusion is justified: it is much better to act to reduce CO2 emissions substantially than to suffer and risk the consequences of failing to meet this challenge. It explains that this conclusion holds true even if, unlike Stern, one heavily discounts the future.

Keywords:   global warming, climate change, Stern report, Nicholas Stern, carbon dioxide emissions, emissions control

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