Stiglitz / Stern / Roubini / Buiter / El-Erian / O’Neill: climate is central to G20

A veritable flotilla of economists has written a letter to the FT this morning, setting out four key targets for the G20.  Among them are Nick Stern (of Stern Review fame); former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz (currently running the UN General Assembly panel on economic reform); Jim O’Neill (head of research at Goldman Sachs and originator of the BRIC acronym); Mohamed El-Erian (CEO of Pimco, probably the most important bond trading house in the world); Nouriel Roubini (Dr Doom); and various other luminaries.

Their first three demands are pretty straightforward.  First, move fast and have the IMF monitor policy implementation; second, initiate a ‘clear and independent’ process for IFI reform; third, intervene to restart trade credit.  But then comes this:

Fourth, the G20 should shape the economic recovery so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. We must develop policies that lay the foundations for strong growth over the next few decades that is not based on unsustainable bubbles. There must be a commitment to a green recovery and, most important, a clear commitment to reach a strong, effective and equitable agreement on climate change at the Copenhagen meeting later this year.

Admittedly, not long on specifics – but other than Nick Stern, I wouldn’t have expected most of these names to put climate change so high on their G20 shopping list.