The LSE Student Catholic Society and the Department of Housing and Communities held an exciting discussion on Thursday March 10th, with renowned environmental economist Lord Nicholas Stern, and Human Rights professor Conor Gearty, who is also a Catholic. The dialogue between these two was chaired by Catholic Anne Power, professor of Social Policy and head of LSE Housing and Communities department. The discussion was attended by a packed audience of around 135 people in a hall designed for 120, and was a mix of academics and church climate activists. Lord Stern endorsed many of the points made by Pope Francis, on the need for solidarity between rich and poor worlds, and the necessity of a carbon tax in order to support sustainable development in poorer countries. He highlighted the success of the Paris Climate Talks, where 195 nations had agreed on a global strategy on climate change, without minimising the fragility and difficulties of such an agreement. When asked about the Pope’s denial that population increase was contributing to the problem, he answered that while he felt that this was an issue, he agreed with Pope Francis that it was not the main one, and that population was in any case decreasing for a number of reasons, separately from the climate issue. Lord Stern thought that action could take place on several levels, but that acting in community with others we could encourage and be encouraged by change. One of the factors which had altered the thinking of governments since the Copenhagen talks was seeing the many alternatives possible to our carbon emitting economies. We could continue to work with communities but also to lobby our political leaders to focus on reducing our use of fossil fuels according to the targets we set ourselves in Paris.
The event was supported and publicised by Westminster Justice and Peace. LSE is producing a transcript of the discussion which will be available shortly.