A new report published one week before the next UN climate summit finds that economic growth and action on climate change can be achieved hand-in-hand without comprising another.
Released yesterday, Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report argues that rapid technological innovation and new investment in infrastructure now make it possible to tackle climate change at the same time as improving economic performance.
Over the next 15 years, the report’s authors predict that 90 trillion dollars will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems. But to achieve strong growth with lower emissions in these three sectors, governments and businesses need to improve resource efficiency, invest in good-quality infrastructure, and stimulate technological and business innovation.
“Major companies, smart investors and a new generation of entrepreneurs are already demonstrating how markets can drive low-carbon growth,” said Jeremy Oppenheim, Global Programme Director of the New Climate Economy project. “But inconsistent policy in many countries is now creating uncertainty, hurting investment and job creation. Businesses and investors need clearer market signals.”
For instance, the report finds that building better, more compact cities based on mass public transport could save 3 trillion dollars in investment costs over the next 15 years while also lowing emissions. Restoring just 12 per cent of the world’s degraded lands can feed another 200 million people, raise farmers incomes by 40 billion dollars per year and cut emissions from deforestation. Or phasing out the 600 billion dollars currently spent on subsidies for fossil fuels (compared to 100 billion on renewable energy) could improve energy efficiency and make funds available for poverty reduction.
The Commission will discuss the report over the next six months with economic decision-makers across the world as it aims to stimulate stronger action by governments and businesses to drive growth and emissions reductions together.
“The message to leaders is clear. We don’t have to choose between economic growth and a safe climate. We can have both,” said former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which launched the New Climate Economy.
Established by seven countries (Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom), the Commission is co-chaired by renowned economist Lord Nicholas Stern and comprises 24 leaders from 18 countries, including former heads of government and finance ministers, leading business people, investors, city mayors and economists.