Friday, March 28, 2014

Governments reject IPCC economist's 'meaningless' climate costs estimate

Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian (UK): Britain has dismissed as "completely meaningless" a key economic finding cited in part of the draft United Nations climate report from a dissenting author who went public on Thursday with criticisms of the report, the Guardian has learned.

Scientists and government officials are gathered this week in Yokohama, Japan, to agree on the exact wording of a final summary of the UN report – seen as the authoritative account of climate change science – before its release on Monday. Britain and other governments have been severely critical of a finding from Richard Tol, a Dutch economics professor at Sussex University, according to documents made available to the Guardian.

The summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the impact of global warming cites research by Tol on global economic losses due to climate change, which he put at between 0.2% and 2% of income. That is far lower than estimates of the costs of climate change by the economist Nicholas Stern.

Britain and other governments rejected the finding as an underestimate when the draft was first circulated to officials last December, noting that Tol did not include the potential for catastrophic damages due to climate change. "This statement … risks being deeply misleading," British officials wrote.

The US and other countries have seen a rise in the number of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding costing more than $1bn. "It seems reasonable to conclude that the quoted figures of 0.2% to 2% are at best an underestimate, and at worst completely meaningless," the officials wrote....

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