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It's better than we thought

I have been conscious that I should have been trying to get to grips with the leaked WGII Summary for Policymakers but, with one thing and another, I haven't even made a start.

So it's just as well that James Delingpole is on the case, and making rather more than a start.

Previous reports - notably the hugely influential 2006 Stern Review - have put the costs to the global economy caused by 'climate change' at between 5 and 20 percent of world GDP.

But the latest estimates, to be published by Working Group II of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, say that a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of the century will cost the world economy between just 0.2 and 2 percent of its GDP.

If the lower estimate is correct, then all it would take is an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent (currently it's around 3 percent) for the economic costs of climate change to be wiped out within a month.


[PS James - I know! I still haven't reviewed your book yet. I will!]

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Reader Comments (31)

Now , if this "fact" would just sink in to the politicions minds....IMO the real fact is that this much warming would be

( net ) beneficial...

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSweet Old Bob

Woohoo. As I said six years ago, partly prompted by D Miliband, let's party!

PS: Thanks Auntie for keeping some of these old threads going.

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

it's only the draft SPM, don't get overexcited

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Whoops yes. Gloom injection time.

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

It breaks the First Law of Climate™:

1. It's worse than we thought
2. Think of the children

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Very off topic but thought you'd like to know Bish. I work as a volunteer for AgeUK and have started to use this blog to engage some of people I support in the centres and they seem to love it. Unintended impacts hey!

Mar 27, 2014 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

So does Tol want to be in? or out? of it?

Mar 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnB

It seems likely that the WG2 Summary for Policy Makers will ignore the reported good news and just be a forecast of future disasters to bolster the continuing UNFCCC political circus and power grab.
The entire IPCC WG2 report like the Stern nonsense is a total waste of time because it is based on the unfounded warming projections of the WG1 report.
There has been no net warming for 16 years and the earth entered a cooling trend in about 2003 which will last for another 20 years and perhaps for hundreds of years beyond that.
The current weather patterns in the UK and USA are typical of those developed by the more meridional path of the jet stream on a cooling earth. The Fagan book “The Little Ice Age ” is a useful guide from the past to the future. The frequency of these weather patterns, e.g. for the USA the PDO related drought in California and the Polar Vortex excursions to the South will increase as cooling continues
The views of the establishment scientists in the USA and the UK Met office’s publicity in this matter reveals their continued refusal to recognize and admit the total failure of the climate models in the face of the empirical data of the last 15 years. It is time for the climate community to move to another approach based on pattern recognition in the temperature and driver data and also on the recognition of the different frequencies of different regional weather patterns on a cooling ( more meridional jet stream ) and warming (more latitudinal jet stream ) world.
For forecasts of the coming cooling based on the 60 year (PDO) and the 1000 year quasi-periodicities seen in the temperature data and the neutron count as a proxy for solar activity in general see several posts at
For a review of a 3 year update of a 30 year forecast see
For an estimate of future NH temperature trends see the latest post at

Mar 27, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr Norman Page

So does Tol want to be in? or out? of it?

Mar 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnB

I sympathise with Richard Tol.

I was recently a municipal councillor in my village in france and a german wind turbine manufacturer came along to plant 85 metres high turbines in our forests and farms. As always they bribe the councils and land owners with large sums of money to get their way. They have been unable to do so in their own country recently because the cost of energy in germany is going through the roof.
In spite of a great deal of effort over a year I was unable to persuade our council that we all will pay. It didn't help that one of the adjoint is already getting € 23000 /an from solar panels and wants to get some more from a windmill.

I could see no other solution but to resign hoping that this would come to the attention of the voters. I was wrong.

Mar 27, 2014 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

It must be wrong as we are all doomed, doomed.
Thermageddon is coming, think of all that hidden heat in the oceans
We are all doomed!

ops I just got my "Dads Army" mixed up. I should have meant the real "Dad's Army" and not the Met Office.

Mar 27, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Dellors when you going back to the Telegraph we miss you son.

Mar 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Delingpole is largely channeling Andrew Lilico who has been writing similar things for a while.

Mar 27, 2014 at 5:02 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Andrew Lilico, first noted in my wiki in December 2011, mostly forgotten since. Suddenly in 2014 a number of what I consider intelligent people have been pointing at the guy (mentioning no names, of course). Did he get better or was I silly not to click on his blog at least every week for two years? (It's actually quite a genuine question. When did others first become aware of Lilico and when did he begin to make useful waves? Daniel Hannan insists he was saying all the same things for ages before one short YouTube clip brought him worldwide fame in March 2009. I'm interested in that bumpy process in the online world. But it may be deeply off topic to ask.)

Mar 27, 2014 at 5:22 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

As JJ says, the Dellers article owes a lot to this one by Lilico I think.

BTW even the Guardian is now running the Richard Tol IPCC step-down story (including of course the obligatory criticism from you know who).

Mar 27, 2014 at 6:03 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Jamspid, Jonathan Richard & Paul
'Dellers" does give due credit Andrew Lillico - good journalists should quote source material.
He also quotes 'the Bish" as he does so often.
As for him 'returning' to the Daily Telegraph, could I refer you to the last 5 editions of "Private Eye" which reveals that there 'have been a few changes at the top', but why would he want to give up a properly paid job as Editor of Breitbart London to return to the DT, when the future of journalism is 'on-line' ?
See to-day's interview with Andrew Gimson at 'Conservative Home' to get the full story, which reveals inter alia, that he is both a member of UKIP and the Conservative Party.

Mar 27, 2014 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Richard Drake,

Andrew Lilico is an old friend of mine - we were near contemporaries at Oxford. His revived interest in climate may partly relate to the fact that he started following me on twitter which led him into a few conversations with Ben Pile and Paul Matthews,

Mar 27, 2014 at 6:45 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Jonathan: thanks. I believe you so great work, Ben and Paul included. I have seasons with and without Twitter. 2014 has been largely without - so a good reminder of how important it can be to get (closer to) the real story.

Mar 27, 2014 at 6:59 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

JD, ain't going back to that left wing rag - the Torygraph-guardianlite.

Andrew Lilico, credit due, we may have had a 'virtual' disagreement or two in the past but fair play to him.

Mar 27, 2014 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Much of the difference in costs can be ascribed to a much lower estimate of the amount of warming. Stern's claims were based upon the most extreme measures available (search "Tol and Yohe 2006 Review of the Stern Review"). Costs take off after 2-3 degrees of warming. For a look at the shape of the curve implied by Stern search WUWT for Richard Tol (posted about a year ago), or see my simplified version of Stern's cost-benefit argument at

Put in colloquial term, the climate gets really crazy after the dangerous 2 degrees have been passed. It will be proclaimed this is apocalypse postponed.

Mar 27, 2014 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

I'm sorry Professor Tol, but you're just an outlier. Not sure if you're in Q(0.25)-1.5IQR or Q(0.75)+1.5IQR, but an outlier nevertheless.

How do I know? Lord Stern told me on ABC television last night where he was subject to the toughest interview I have ever seen (shurely shome mistake - ed).

TONY JONES: ... How much damage will his (Tol's) departure do to the credibility of the final report?

NICHOLAS STERN: Not much. He's always been somebody who as argued that the damages from climate change are there but very small. He's an outlier really and I think his departure won't make much difference.

TONY JONES: Do you think it's been orchestrated in some way? Is that what you're suggesting?

NICHOLAS STERN: I don't know whether it's orchestrated or not. He's making his own statements and he's entitled to do that but I think he's seen as a bit of an outlier in terms of someone who thinks the damages are much smaller than the rest of us fear and this is risk management, Tony.

Mar 27, 2014 at 11:54 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Thanks Grant

Here's an analysis of outliers for you:

Mar 28, 2014 at 1:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

What is important to remember here is that this assessment is better than what Stern thought, but not so much better than what the IPCC had previously assessed. Stern was brought in to provide the figures required to raise sufficient alarm (with his absurd discount rates and the rest) after the IPCC had refused to do so.

When the IPCC first address the matter (in SAR after a push from within the Bush Administration), Tol et al delivered a moderate finding that many saw as suggestion that mitigation was not cost-effective beyond no-regrets action. It elicited this response in the Guardian:

…the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would probably be greater than 2 per cent of Gross World Product (GWP). While the losses if greenhouse gas emissions were not curbed would amount to only 1.5 to 2 per cent of GWP. The implication...if these figures were allowed to stand...would mean that the world community would do very little to slow the warming because it would believe it was cheaper not to.

Mar 28, 2014 at 3:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernieL

Cheaper? Cheaper? Do you want steerage or do you want POSH?

Mar 28, 2014 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

However, the climate obsessed now believe that the existence of an impact, not its significance, is all the justification required to impose their policies and laws and costs. In other words, the climate obsessed reject the idea of cost-benefit.
This of course takes the movement out of the sphere of rational discourse.
But we have seen this by the refusal of AGW believers to debate, much less discuss, serious critiques of their consensus. Instead, they reject criticism by the circular reason that to disagree with them is to render the critic unworthy of recognition or dialog.

Mar 28, 2014 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I don't think that Andrew Lilico (and following him, James Delingpole) are right about the relative insignificance of the possible costs of global warming as now reported. The illustrative 0.2 per cent of GDP that Andrew has referred to would indeed be a small fraction of expected annual growth, soon made up, it it were just a one-off future event. But what is in question is a continuing net loss of output and welfare, projected to rise over time as global warming continues.

Mar 28, 2014 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Henderson

David Henderson, why should I give up current income just in case some hypothetical bad thing happens?

Kevin Marshall, you have hit the nail on the head. It reminds me of Charles Dickens' famous quote about overspending or underspending your income. Apparently, there is a magical figure to do with climate which corresponds to Dickens' eminently sensible quote.

What a load of (insert favourite word).

Mar 28, 2014 at 3:14 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

David Henderson: Thank you. What's your own best estimate of the likely impact on GDP over time, based on sensitivity levels suggested by Lewis and business-as-usual emissions? Not saying it's an easy question to answer but no harm in asking.

Mar 28, 2014 at 3:32 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Assuming that any mitigation effort which might be effective at something thought worthwhile would significantly dampen the growth in the world's industrial economies one might suppose that such then non-robust economies would lack the wherewithal for effective adaptation to the specific problems which later arrive.

Better not to spend money preventing the uncertain if it diminishes our capacity to deal with real problems when, if ever, they arrive.

Our great-grandchildren won't think well of us if we destroy the economies they inherit with expensive foolishness.

Mar 28, 2014 at 3:50 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

@ Stephen Richards. I live in Aquitaine and there are as far as I know no Turbines here however on a recent trip to Niort I was horrified at how many Turbines have gone up north of Angouleme; I think you might be mistaken though, when it is discovered WHY the local taxes have gone through the ceiling, the architects of this money making scam will be very unpopular indeed as will be the approval of more green schemes.

Mar 28, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohnnyrvf

Twin responses:

Johanna: I'm not suggesting that you 'should give up current income'.

Richard Drake: Sorry, mate: can't help you there. I have made no estimate of 'the likely impact'.

(I have sent my comment to Andrew Lilico, and if I've misinterpreted his position he may well comment himself.)

Mar 28, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Henderson

David Henderson (Mar 28, 2014 at 2:02 PM):

…as global warming continues.
But, the thing is, it hasn’t. “Global Warming” peaked in 1998, and hasn’t increased since. (Yeah, yeah… I’m cherry-picking; it’s like saying the there is no M1 north of Leeds – okay, it only goes as far as Leeds, but to say it stops there is just cherry-picking…)

Mar 30, 2014 at 2:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

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