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Climate crisis: economists ‘grossly undervalue young lives’, warns Stern

young lives

Climate crisis: economists ‘grossly undervalue young lives’, warns Stern

Many economic assessments of the climate crisis “grossly undervalue the young lives and future generations”, Prof Nicholas Stern warned on Tuesday, before the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Economists have failed to take account of the “immense risks and potential loss of life” that could occur as a result of the climate crisis, he said, as well as badly underestimating the speed at which the costs of clean technologies, such as solar and wind energy, have fallen.

Stern said the economics profession had also misunderstood the basics of “discounting”, the way in which economic models value future assets and lives compared with their value today. “It means economists have grossly undervalued the lives of young people and future generations who are most at threat from the devastating impacts of climate change,” he said. “Discounting has been applied in such a way that it is effectively discrimination by date of birth.”

Youth protests around the world, sparked by the school strike of Greta Thunberg, have been a key factor in increasing demands for action in recent years, along with rising extreme weather events. Recent research shows people born today will suffer many times more extreme heatwaves and other climate disasters over their lifetimes than their grandparents.

However, Stern said: “The move to net zero [emissions] can be the great driver of a new form of growth – the growth story of the 21st century. This growth will be more resource-efficient, more productive, and healthier, and will offer greater protection to our biodiversity.”

Renewable energy costs have fallen dramatically and electric cars are moving to scale, he said, while 75% of global emissions are now covered by national commitments to net zero emissions by the middle part of century, though “some of those commitments are more credible than others”.

Stern’s remarks are based on a paper to be published in the Economic Journal of the Royal Economic Society and made to mark the 15th anniversary of the landmark Stern review on the economics of the climate crisis in 2006. It concluded that the costs of inaction on climate were far greater than the costs of action and that the climate crisis was the biggest market failure in history.

Since the publication of the report, carbon emissions have risen by 20% and Stern was scathing about much of the economic analysis that has informed policymakers. “Cavalier treatment of risk, and the missing of the very rapid technical progress, means the models have been profoundly misleading,” he said. The theory of discounting had not been related to its ethical foundations, he added, or allowed for the risk that global heating will make future generations poorer.

Political action has been slow since 2006, Stern said, because of the persistence of the “damaging” idea that climate action cuts economic growth and also because of the global financial crisis, which diverted attention and cut middle-class incomes, making politics more “fractious”.

“The economic question now is: how do we manage the radical transformation we have to make in the world economy in the next 20 or 30 years?” he said. “How do we promote the 2% or 3% extra investment we’ll need – which is a very valuable investment, not a cost.”

A whole range of policies are needed, Stern said, including carbon pricing, regulation, product standards, investment in research and reform of capital markets. A critical factor is the provision of large-scale, low-cost finance to fund the low-carbon transition, especially in developing countries.

Stern was directly involved in the negotiation of a promised $100bn a year in climate finance from rich nations in Copenhagen in 2009. But this has yet to be delivered and it is a vital goal of Cop26. On Monday, developed countries released a delivery plan to mobilise the funding, projecting the goal would be surpassed in 2023 onward, after being nearly attained in 2022. Nick Mabey at the E3G thinktank said it was “just about credible”.

The Stern review was criticised by some when published as exaggerating the risks of the climate crisis. “The idea that I was alarmist is just laughable in retrospect. We underestimated the dangers. The costs of inaction were very worrying 15 years ago – they are immensely worrying now.”

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Environment

Flood Kills 7, Displaces 2,800 In Kwara

Flooding in different parts of Kwara in 2022 has caused about 7 deaths.

This was disclosed by the managing Director, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission, HYPPADEC, Abubakar Yelwa, on Sunday, September 25, in Patigi, Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State.

He identified riverine communities in Patigi as the worst hit by the disaster.

Abubakar said 1,300 households and 2,800 persons were affected by the flood disaster.

He further revealed that large hectares of farmlands and houses were also submerged in Patigi.

The commission was in the area to assist the victims with relief materials.

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Environment

Tropical Storm Ian strengthens into a hurricane, heads toward Cuba, Florida

Tropical Storm Ian strengthens into a hurricane, heads toward Cuba, Florida

Forecasters say Tropical Storm Ian has strengthened into a hurricane as it moves closer to Cuba on a track expected to take it to Florida in the coming days.

Ian was forecast to intensify rapidly and become a major hurricane as soon as late Monday.

Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and said they will begin evacuations Monday as Ian was forecast to strengthen before reaching the western part of the island on its way to Florida.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Ian should reach the far-western part of Cuba late Monday or early Tuesday, hitting near the country’s most famed tobacco fields. It could become a major hurricane before a likely landfall in Florida around the middle of the week, possibly the state’s western coast or Panhandle.

Cuba state media outlet Granma said authorities would begin evacuating people from vulnerable areas early Monday in the far-western province of Pinar del Rio. Classes there have been suspended.

At 5 a.m. EDT on Monday, Ian was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph), about 90 miles (150 kilometers) southwest of Grand Cayman, according to the center. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

Meanwhile, residents in Florida were keeping a cautious eye on Ian as it rumbled ominously through the Caribbean on a path toward the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency throughout Florida and urged residents to prepare for the storm to lash large swaths of the state with heavy rains, high winds and rising seas.

Forecasters are still unsure of exactly where Ian could make landfall, with current models plotting it toward Florida’s west coast or panhandle regions, he said.

“We’re going to keep monitoring the track of this storm. But it really is important to stress the degree of uncertainty that still exists,” DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday, cautioning that “even if you’re not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm, there’s going to be pretty broad impacts throughout the state.”

Flash and urban flooding is possible in the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula through midweek, and then heavy rainfall was possible for north Florida, the Florida panhandle and the southeast United States later this week.

The agency placed a tropical storm watch over the lower Florida Keys on Sunday evening and has advised Floridians to have hurricane plans in place and monitor updates of the storm’s evolving path.

President Joe Biden also declared an emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property. The president postponed a scheduled Sept. 27 trip to Florida because of the storm.

John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based center, said in an interview Sunday that it is not clear exactly where Ian will hit hardest in Florida. Residents should begin preparations, including gathering supplies for potential power outages, he said.

“It’s a hard thing to say stay tuned, but that’s the right message right now,” Cangialosi said “But for those in Florida, it’s still time to prepare. I’m not telling you to put up your shutters yet or do anything like that, but it’s still time to get your supplies.”

Local media in Florida have reported a consumer rush on water, generators and other supplies in some areas where residents moved to stock up on goods ahead of the storm.

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Environment

134 Dead, 76,887 Houses Destroyed As Flooding Hits Jigawa

Heavy flooding in Jigawa State has resulted in the death of 134 persons and destroyed 76,887 houses.

The deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Umar Namadi disclosed this when he hosted the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) official, Rahman Rihub Mahmud Fara on Saturday.

He said the state lost property worth more than N1.5 trillion to the floods.

A total of 22 roads and 11 bridges were completely washed away by the floods, he said.

The deputy governor said an entire village was also completely destroyed.

He said the flood affected 272,189 people, out of which 76,887 lost their houses.Mr Namadi said Kirikasamma and Birniwa local government areas are greatly affected.

UNICEF chief field officer in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, Mr Fara, said they came to assess the situation and see what could be done to alleviate the suffering of the communities affected by flood in the state.

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