How will climate change be viewed in a year’s time? Will the sceptics still be peddling their theories that global warming is a Left-Wing conspiracy? Or will they have accepted the overwhelming consensus of most reputable scientists – and, by then, most reputable governments — that the world’s climate is being battered by carbon emissions?

The answer seems inevitable. Yesterday, for example, the Howard Government announced its biggest injection of money to fund technology to combat global warming – for a public-private partnership to develop Australia’s biggest solar power plant and a coal drying project in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley – in what is expected to be part of a $500 million roll-out of climate change projects over coming months.

But is one solar power plant, one coal drying project and another $500 million enough? Not if you believe the views of former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern, who is today reported in The Guardian as warning governments that unless they tackle the climate change problem head-on by cutting emissions they will “face economic ruin”. In a report commissioned by the UK Treasury to be released next week – and described by the British government’s chief scientific adviser Sir David King as “the most detailed economic analysis” of the impact of climate change yet conducted — Sir Nicholas predicts that if governments don’t take international action there will be “a massive downturn in global economies … the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the great depression and the two world wars”.

So how will climate change be viewed in a year’s time?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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