Monday, October 30, 2006

Britian's report geared to America's leadership

Tony Blair has quickly issued praise for this report. The Economist, not exactly a left wing paper, has a positive recap:
SIR NICHOLAS STERN, the head of the British Government Economic Service, has produced the world’s first big report on the economics of climate change. But his 700-page effort, although stuffed with figures, is not really about economics. It is about politics—the politics of getting America to lead a global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The purpose of Sir Nicholas’s report—commissioned by Tony Blair—is to deal with the argument of people who accept that climate change is happening, but who say that trying to do anything about it would be a waste of money. This argument is heard occasionally in Europe and frequently in America, where, for added potency, it is combined with the notion that European attempts to tax carbon are part of a conspiracy by socialists determined to undermine the American way of life.


But there is one country towards which Sir Nicholas gestures when he writes of the need for “demonstrating leadership” and “working to build trust”, without which all efforts to deal with the problem will fail: America. (China may well become a bigger polluter than America, but persuading it to do something about climate change will be near impossible if America does not act first). Sir Nicholas does not explain how to solve the difficulty of getting America on board. But if he succeeds in persuading policymakers that the American way of life is better preserved by dealing with climate change than by ignoring it, he himself might be part of the solution.


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