Climate change presents a potential whopping 5% per capita cost to the future world economy, according to a report released today by the former chief economist from the World Bank, Nicholas Stern. The first substantial macro-economic study to forecast economic costs of global climate change, the study monetarily quantifies major flooding in cities including New York, Miami, London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Buenos Aires, among other climate-change related threats.
Though the US currently produces 25 percent of global greenhouse gases, the real policy actions to address these dire issues are currently being taken on the state and local level. Federal programs to limit US greenhouse emissions are minimal while spending on energy research is less than half of what it was in 1979 (when taking into account adjusted dollars), according to a story in today's New York Times.
It's US leaders in state and local government that are taking concrete actions in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At www.sustainlane.us, we launched this month an open-source knowledge base for these officials to share best practices.
Not only have we received excellent best practices in climate change policy from local government in Seattle, San Francisco, and Marin County, California, SustainLane Government's knowledge base has also benefited from contributions that address global climate change in related areas such as Energy/ Energy Efficiency, land use/planning, transportation, even in local food and agriculture.
Whether it's Denver or Portland replacing their traffic light bulbs with energy saving LEDs, or Washington, DC offering tax breaks for hybrid vehicle owners, or Chicago expediting green building permitting, local government is taking a wide range of actions that will benefit local constituents while stimulating the domestic economy, AND will cut US greenhouse gas emissions.
The Stern Report also praised states, particularly California under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's leadership, which are taking the lead in establishing frameworks for greenhouse gas reduction goals and carbon caps. SustainLane Government is readying its knowledge base for the participation of states in best-practice sharing and peer networking.
While the Stern Report is a bracing call to action, the report stresses that measures taken to reduce carbon emission now will have major long-term positive economic impact. Last century, the United States was a leader in confronting the challenges of the day with long-lasting solutions through the use of programs, policies and actions.
The difference this century is that such innovation is coming from our communities, our own backyards, if you will. I will be sharing exciting announcements in the coming months about SustainLane partnerships and collaborations with a variety of state and local government entities that are taking on the enormity of global climate change and other large-scale sustainability issues, while improving local living and building our economy for the future.