For many people in Government, Sir Nicholas Stern’s report on climate change was seen as a benchmark study.

But now Stern has warned that the gloomy predictions of his high-profile review of the future effects of global warming underestimated the risks, and that climate change poses a bigger threat than he realised.

Stern said this week that new scientific findings showed greenhouse gas emissions were causing more damage than was understood in 2006, when he prepared his study for the UK government.

He said: “Emissions are growing much faster than we’d thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we’d thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates and the speed of climate change seems to be faster.”

Stern said the new findings vindicated his report, which has been criticised by climate sceptics and some economists as exaggerating the possible damage. “People who said I was scaremongering were profoundly wrong,” he told a conference in London.