A comprehensive review on the economics of climate change has been published by HM Treasury. The review, commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown in July last year, has been carried out by Sir Nicholas Stern, head of the Government Economic Service and former World Bank chief economist.

Sir Nicholas said that there is still time to “avoid the worst impacts of climate change”, but that international action was needed now.

“The conclusion of the review is essentially optimistic,” he said. “There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we act now and act internationally. Governments, businesses and individuals all need to work together to respond to the challenge.

Strong, deliberate policy choices by governments are essential to motivate change. “But the task is urgent. Delaying action, even by a decade or two, will take us into dangerous territory. We must not let this window of opportunity close.”

The study claims that the cost of action to reduce greenhouse gases and avoid the worst impacts of climate change would be about 1% of global GDP each year. To take no action now and deal with the effects of climate change at a later date would cost significantly more.

Action in the form of future international frameworks, the report points out, should include emissions trading, technology co-operation, action to reduce deforestation, and adaptation. The world cannot afford to wait before tackling climate change, the UK prime minister has warned.

Taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, the 700-page study says.

A summary of the report is available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/30_10_06_exec_sum.pdf

Tony Blair said the Stern Review showed that scientific evidence of global warming was "overwhelming" and its consequences "disastrous".

The review coincides with the release of new data by the United Nations showing an upward trend in emission of greenhouse gases - a development for which Sir Nicholas said that rich countries must shoulder most of the responsibility.

And Chancellor Gordon Brown promised the UK would lead the international response to tackle climate change. Environment Secretary David Miliband said the Queen's Speech would now feature a climate bill to establish an independent Carbon Committee to "work with government to reduce emissions over time and across the economy".

further info: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6096084.stm