Counting the Cost of Climate Change
Professor Anil Markandya continues to contribute to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Established in 1988 to give policymakers neutral summaries of the latest expertise on climate change, its aim is to interpret evidence from existing research through an international panel of distinguished scientists, reporting every six or seven years. The last report was in 2007; the next in 2014. The IPCC consists of three ‘working groups’. The first deals with the physical science and evidence for climate change; the second with the impacts of the change; and the third with actions to reduce anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. Each working group has a co-chair and is divided up into a number of chapters with a convening lead author, contributors and reviewers.
Professor Anil Markandya, from the Department of Economics, was a lead author for the fourth Report of the IPCC, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He also worked on the panel’s third assessment report, with responsibility for costing ways of mitigating the effects of global warming. “This process is aimed at providing the best scientific assessment of the causes and consequences of climate change, of the actions available to mitigate the effects, and how to adapt to them," says Professor Markandya.
With the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol just weeks away and the growing clamour for a new agreement to establish further commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emmisions, research on climate change impacts and costs are increasingly gaining attention. A team of researchers, led by Professor Anil Markandya, has been estimating the costs of climate change – both in terms of impacts and responses. It is an involved process, as Professor Markandya explains:
“Drafts of the chapters go through an extensive review process by governments and other researchers. It is this process and the fact that the final drafts have been widely reviewed that gives the publications their great influence. Over time the reports have been able to say with increasing confidence that climate change is an anthropogenic phenomenon. These statements were reviewed and accepted by the scientific and international community.”
An important part of the IPCC is to produce a ‘Summary for Policy Makers’. This puts detailed scientific literature, published in three volumes running to more than 3,000 pages, into a single short document. IPCC also provides estimates of key scientific parameters that are widely used to estimate climatic effects such as the relative importance of different gases.
“One of the issues is the costing of impacts and measuring costs of policies designed to reduce greenhouse gases. Another has been to better understand the equity impacts of different policies designed to address climate change. The chapters I have written deal with these questions. Increasingly climate change is seen as a major global challenge and it is a privilege to be able to contribute to solving it, no matter in how small a way,” adds Professor Markandya.
The IPCC is now embarking on the fifth assessment and Professor Markandya has been asked to help frame the reports that will be published in 2014.
- To provide the best scientific assessment of the causes and consequences of climate change, of the actions available to mitigate effects and how to adapt to them.
- The main research in this group is in the valuation of the impacts of climate change, including the sectors of health, transport, buildings and infrastructure. Policy assessments have included evaluations of mitigation strategies and adaptation measures.