Nicholas Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford

Nicholas Herbert Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford, CH Kt FRS FBA FAcSS (born 22 April 1946)[1] is a British economist and academic. He is IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government and Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics (LSE), and 2010 Professor of Collège de France. From 2013–2017, he was President of the British Academy.

The Lord Stern of Brentford
Nicholas Herbert Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford.jpg
Stern in 2014
President of the British Academy
In office
Preceded bySir Adam Roberts
Succeeded byDavid Cannadine
World Bank Chief Economist
In office
Preceded byJoseph Stiglitz
Succeeded byFrançois Bourguignon
Personal details
Born (1946-04-22) 22 April 1946 (age 75)[1]
Political partyCrossbench
Alma mater
Known forStern Review (2006)
Scientific career
ThesisLocation and the rate of development. A study in the theory of optimum planning (1971)
Doctoral advisorJames Mirrlees[3]


After attending Latymer Upper School, Stern studied the Mathematical Tripos and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in maths at Peterhouse, Cambridge in 1967.[4] His doctorate[1] in economics (DPhilEcon) at Nuffield College, Oxford, with thesis on the rate of economic development and the theory of optimum planning[5] in 1971 was supervised by James Mirrlees, 1996's Nobel Prize in Economics winner.[3]

Career and researchEdit


He was a lecturer at University of Oxford from 1970–1977 [6][7] and served as a professor of economics at the University of Warwick from 1978 to 1987. He taught from 1986 to 1993 at the London School of Economics, becoming the Sir John Hicks Professor of Economics. From 1994 until 1999 he was the Chief Economist and Special Counsellor to the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. His research focused on economic development and growth, and he also wrote books on Kenya and the Green Revolution in India. Since 1999, he has been a member of the International Advisory Council of the Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE). From 1999 until 2000 Stern was Chairman of the consultancy London Economics founded by John Kay.

He was the Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003. Stern was then recruited by Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to work for the British government where, in 2003, he became second permanent secretary at HM Treasury, initially with responsibility for public finances, and head of the Government Economic Service. Having also been Director of Policy and Research for the Commission for Africa, he was, in July 2005, appointed to conduct reviews on the economics of climate change and also of development, which led to the publication of the Stern Review. At the time, he ceased to be a second permanent secretary at the Treasury though he retained the rank until retirement in 2007; the review team he headed was based in the Cabinet Office. It was reported that Stern's time at the Treasury was marked by tensions with his boss, Gordon Brown:[8]

... several Whitehall sources told The Times that Mr Brown did not like some of the advice he received from Sir Nicholas, including some "home truths" about long-term trends in the economy and he never broke into the chancellor's tight-knit inner circle. ... He subsequently lacked a real role and spent most of his time working on major international reports on global warming and alleviating poverty in Africa. His doom-laden report on the risks of failing to address climate change, published in October, caused tensions within the Government by triggering a debate on environmental taxes and leading to calls for big policy changes.

The Stern Review (2005–2006)Edit

The Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change was produced by a team led by Stern at HM Treasury, and was released in October 2006. In the review, climate change is described as an economic externality, which is a type of market failure. Stern has subsequently referred to the climate change externality as the largest ever market failure:

Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen. The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming ... The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay[9]

Regulation, carbon taxes and carbon trading are recommended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is argued that the world economy can lower its greenhouse gas emissions at a significant but manageable cost. The review concludes that immediate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are necessary to reduce the worst risks of climate change. The review's conclusions were widely reported in the press. Stern's relatively large cost estimates of 'business-as-usual' climate change damages received particular attention.[10][11] These are the estimated damages that might occur should no further effort be made to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Stern at World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, January 2009

There has been a mixed reaction to the Stern Review from economists. Several economists have been critical of the review,[12][13] for example, a paper by Byatt et al. (2006) describes the review as "deeply flawed".[14] Some have supported the Review,[15][16][17] while others have argued that Stern's conclusions are reasonable, even if the method by which he reached them is incorrect.[18] The Stern Review team has responded to criticisms of the review in several papers.[19] Stern has also gone on to say that he underestimated the risks of climate change in the Stern Review.[20]

Stern's approach to discounting has been debated amongst economists. The discount rate allows economic effects occurring at different times to be compared. Stern used a discount rate in his calculation of the effects of "business-as-usual" climate change damages. A high discount rate reduces the calculated benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using too low a discount rate wastes resources because it will result in too much investment in cutting emissions (Arrow et al., 1996, p. 130).[21] Too high a discount rate will have the opposite effect, and lead to under-investment in cutting emissions. Most studies on the damages of climate change use a higher discount rate than that used in the Stern Review. Some economists support Stern's choice of discount rate (Cline, 2008;[22] Shah, 2008[17] Heal, 2008)[23] while others are critical (Yohe and Tol, 2008;[24] Nordhaus, 2007).[25]

Another criticism of the Stern Review is that it is a political rather than an analytical document. Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, columnist Charles Moore compared the Stern Review to the UK Government's "dodgy dossier" on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.[26]


In a speech given in 2007 at the Australian National Press Club, Stern called for one per cent of gross global product to be employed in global warming-related environmental measures.[27] He also joined the Cool Earth advisory board. In 2009, Stern linked recovery from the global economic crisis with an effective response to climate change.[28][29] His book, Blueprint for a Safer Planet, was published in April 2009.

In June 2007, Stern became the first holder of the I. G. Patel Chair at the London School of Economics.[30] In 2007, Nicholas Stern joined IDEAglobal as Vice-Chairman.[31] In 2008, he was appointed Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, a major new research centre also at LSE. He is Chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at Leeds University and LSE. Stern is co-chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate, with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Paul Polman.[32]

In 2009, he published the non-fiction literary work, The Global Deal: Climate Change and the Creation of a New Era of Progress and Prosperity.[33] The book examines climate change from an economist's perspective, and outlines the necessary steps toward achieving global economic growth while managing climate change. In 2009, he also became a member of the International Advisory Council of the Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation.[34]

Stern is an advocate of vegetarianism as a climate change mitigation element.[35]

He is a member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS, Spain's Socialist Party's think tank.

In 2015, he was co-author of the report that launched the Global Apollo Programme, which calls for developed nations to commit to spending 0.02% of their GDP for 10 years, to fund co-ordinated research to make carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity from coal by the year 2025.[36]

After the successful United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (mid-December 2015), Stern appeared optimistic, saying, "If we get this right, it will be more powerful than the industrial revolution. A green race is going on."[37] He also said

Where we can, we have to go to zero carbon, because of a growing population and a rising middle class in developing countries which wants the same standard of living the developed world already enjoys. GHGs must be cut by at least 50% around the world by 2050, with the rich, developed countries cutting by 80%, compared to 1990 levels. We are at the beginning of a technical revolution of the magnitude of the railway, the motor car ... The economic crisis is an opportunity to lay the foundation for the future ... You can tell a very positive story here.[38]

In November 2015 he was commissioned by the UK Minister of Universities and Science, Jo Johnson to chair a review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) that is used in assessing the research performance of Universities and Research Institutes in the UK. The report was published in July 2016.[39]

Awards and honoursEdit

Stern was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1993;[40] he is also an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Foreign Honorary Member of both the American Economic Association and the American Philosophical Society.[41] In the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours he was made a Knight Bachelor, for services to Economics.[42][43][44] On 18 October 2007, it was announced that Stern would receive a life peerage and was to be made a non-party political peer (i.e. would sit as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords). He was duly created Baron Stern of Brentford, of Elsted in the County of West Sussex and of Wimbledon in the London Borough of Merton on 10 December 2007.[45] He is, however, usually addressed as Lord Stern, or Lord Stern of Brentford.[46]

In 2006, he was elected as an Honorary Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge,[47] and he is also an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford.[48]

Stern was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Warwick in 2006,[49] an Honorary Doctor of International Relations degree by the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations in 2007, an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Sheffield in 2008,[50] an Honorary Doctor by the Technische Universität Berlin in 2009[51] and also in 2009 an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Brighton.[52]

Stern participated at one of the showings of The Age of Stupid at The RSA. At the after-showing webcast panel discussion[53] was director Franny Armstrong, journalist George Monbiot, and the Met Office head of climate impacts Richard Betts. In 2009 Nicholas Stern lent his support to the 10:10 project, a movement encouraging people to take positive action on climate change by reducing their carbon emissions.[54]

Stern received the 2010 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Climate Change for his "pioneering report [that] shaped and focused the discourse on the economics of climate change" and provided "a unique and robust basis for decision-making."[55]

On 11 December 2013, Stern was awarded the 2013 Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication by Climate One at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California.[56]

Stern was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2014[2] in recognition of his work challenging the world view on the economics of climate change.[57] In 2016, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS).[58]

Stern was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to economics, international relations, and tackling climate change.[59][60]

The Kiel Institute for the World Economy announced, that Stern will be awarded the Bernhard Harms Prize 2021.[61]

Personal lifeEdit

Stern is the son of the late Bert Stern and Marion Stern and nephew of Donald Swann—half of the Flanders and Swann partnership. Richard Stern, former vice-president of the World Bank, and Brian E Stern, former vice-president of Xerox Corporation, are his brothers, and his sister is Naomi Opalinska.


  • A Strategy for Development, World Bank Publications, 2002 (ISBN 978-0821349809).
  • The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, Cambridge University Press, 2007 (ISBN 978-0521700801).
  • A Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity, Bodley Head, PublicAffairs, 2009 (ISBN 978-1-84792-037-9).
  • The Global Deal: Climate Change and the Creation of a New Era of Progress and Prosperity, 2009 (ISBN 978-1586486693).
  • Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change, MIT Press, 2015 (ISBN 9780262029186).


  1. ^ a b c "STERN OF BRENTFORD, Baron (Nicholas Herbert)". Who's Who. 2014 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c Anon (2014). "The Lord Stern of Brentford Kt FBA FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:

    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-09.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

  3. ^ a b Nicholas Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ Munro, Ann (2007). "Petrean News" (PDF). Peterhouse Cambridge. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  5. ^ Stern, Nicholas Herbert (1971). Location and the rate of development. A study in the theory of optimum planning (DPhilEcon thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 500571870.
  6. ^ Nicholas Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Atkinson, A. B.; Stern, Nicholas Herbert (1974). "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods". The Review of Economic Studies. 41 (1): 119. doi:10.2307/2296403. JSTOR 2296403.
  8. ^ Hurst, G. (8 December 2006). "Climate change author quits Treasury after Brown freezes him out". Times Online. London. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  9. ^ Alison Benjamin (29 November 2007). "Stern: Climate change a 'market failure'". Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  10. ^ Peston, R. (29 October 2006). "Report's stark warning on climate". BBC.
  11. ^ "Climate change fight 'can't wait'". BBC. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2010. – video, executive summary and slide show.
  12. ^ Tol, R.S.J. and G.Yohe (2006). "A Review of the Stern Review". World Economics. 7 (4): 233–50.
  13. ^ Nordhaus, W. D. (2007). "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate". Journal of Economic Literature. 45 (3): 686–702. doi:10.1257/jel.45.3.686.
  14. ^ Byatt, I.; et al. (2006). "The Stern Review: A Dual Critique, Part II". World Economics. 7 (4). Archived from the original on 5 February 2008.
  15. ^ DeLong, B. "Do unto others ..."
  16. ^ Quiggin, J. "Stern and the critics on discounting (unpublised)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 January 2011.
  17. ^ a b Nihar Shah (2008). "Climate Change and Discounting".
  18. ^ Weitzman, M. "The Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change" (PDF).
  19. ^ UK Office of Climate Change (13 March 2008). "Stern Team – Additional papers and Presentations by Lord Stern". Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  20. ^ Adam, D. (18 April 2008). "I underestimated the threat, says Stern". London. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  21. ^ Arrow, K.J.; et al. (1996b). Intertemporal Equity, Discounting, and Economic Efficiency. In: Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (J.P. Bruce et al. (eds.)) (PDF). This version: Printed by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, N.Y., U.S.A.. PDF version: Prof. Joseph Stiglitz's web page at Columbia University. doi:10.2277/0521568544. ISBN 978-0-521-56854-8. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  22. ^ Cline, W. (5 January 2008). "Comments on the Stern Review". Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  23. ^ Heal, G. (April 2008). "Climate economics: A meta-review and some suggestions. NBER Working Paper 13927" (PDF). The National Bureau of Economic Research. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  24. ^ Yohe, G.W. and R.S.J. Tol (August 2008). "The Stern Review and the economics of climate change: an editorial essay". Climatic Change. Springer Netherlands. 89 (3–4): 231. Bibcode:2008ClCh...89..231Y. doi:10.1007/s10584-008-9431-z. S2CID 154546664.
  25. ^ Nordhaus, W.D. (3 May 2007). "The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change" (PDF). Yale University website. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 November 2009.
  26. ^ Moore, C. (27 January 2007). "What's black and white and green all over? Another dodgy dossier". London: Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  27. ^ Brown, Bob (9 July 2008). National Press Club Address (PDF) (Speech). National Press Club. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  28. ^ "Stern McKinsey Interview".
  29. ^ "GFC and Climate Change". 8 March 2009.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Lord Nicholas Stern". IDEAcarbon. Archived from the original on 10 January 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  32. ^ "Members of the Global Commission". Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  33. ^ "The Global Deal: Climate Change and the Creation of a New Era of Progress and Prosperity: Nicholas Stern: Books". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  34. ^ "China Investment Corporation". Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  35. ^ Pagnamenta, Robin (27 October 2009). "Climate chief Lord Stern give up meat to save the planet". The Times. London.
  36. ^ Carrington, Damian. "Global Apollo programme seeks to make clean energy cheaper than coal". The Guardian (2 June 2015). Guardian News Media. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  37. ^ Vidal, John; Goldenbert, Suzanne; Taylor, Lenore (13 December 2015). "How the historic Paris deal over climate change was finally agreed". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  38. ^ Nicholas Stern: climate and economic crises can be tackled jointly, Wind Directions (EWEA), March 2009 pp. 46–47
  39. ^ "Building on Success and Learning from Experience An Independent Review of the Research Excellence Framework" (PDF). July 2016.
  40. ^ The British Academy (2006). British Academy Fellows Archive Archived 19 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  41. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  42. ^ "No. 57315". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2004. p. 1.
  43. ^ "No. 57391". The London Gazette. 24 August 2004. p. 10694.
  44. ^ Press and Information Office – LSE (2006). News and Views: Volume Thirty-Four • Number Nine • 21 June 2004 Archived 13 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  45. ^ "No. 58543". The London Gazette. 17 December 2007. p. 18246.
  46. ^ [1] Archived 27 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ "Peterhouse" (college magazine) Jan 2008, page 3; also "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  48. ^ "Honorary Fellows". Archived from the original on 22 April 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  49. ^ University of Warwick (2006). University of Warwick Honorary Degrees announced for July 2006. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  50. ^ University of Sheffield (2008). Media Centre
  51. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 2009-11-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  52. ^ University of Brighton – webteam (4 August 2009). "News and events – University of Brighton". Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  53. ^ "Indie Screenings Launch Event". The Age of Stupid. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  54. ^ "Who's doing 10:10? | 10:10". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  55. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  56. ^ Ltd, Celebrity Speakers. "Keynote Speakers – After Dinner Speakers – Motivational Speakers – CSA Celebrity Speakers Bureau".
  57. ^ "Royal Society elects new Fellows". Royal Society. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  58. ^ "Eighty-four leading social scientists conferred as Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences". Academy of Social Sciences. 19 October 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  59. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B25.
  60. ^ "Genome pioneer John Sulston enters elite club". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  61. ^ "Lord Nicholas Stern erhält Preis für Klimaforschung | Börsen-Zeitung". (in German). Retrieved 12 August 2021.

Further readingEdit

Preceded by
President of the British Academy
Succeeded by
Preceded by
World Bank Chief Economist
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Baron Stern of Brentford
Followed by
The Lord Smith of Kelvin