Climate Action Can Spur Economic Growth, Commission Says

New Climate Economy project analysis

by | Sep 17, 2014

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New Climate Economy project analysisBusinesses and governments can tackle climate change and improve economic performance, according to a report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, a group of business and policy leaders from 19 countires.

Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report was presented to governments and business and finance leaders at a global launch event at the UN headquarters in New York City, attended by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The report arrives just one week before the UN Climate Summit.

The report finds that over the next 15 years, about $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems. It says this presents an unprecedented opportunity to drive investment in low-carbon growth, bringing benefits including jobs, health and business productivity.

The report finds that there are now major opportunities to achieve strong growth with lower emissions in three key sectors of the global economy: cities, land use and energy. To achieve this growth, governments and businesses need to improve resource efficiency, invest in good-quality infrastructure, and stimulate technological and business innovation.

  • Cities: Building better connected, more compact cities based on mass public transport can save over $3 trillion in investment costs over the next 15 years. These measures will improve economic performance with lower emissions.
  • Land use: Restoring just 12 percent of the world’s degraded lands can feed another 200 million people and raise farmers’ incomes by $40 billion a year — and also cut emissions from deforestation.
  • Energy: As the price of solar and wind power falls, over half of new electricity generation over the next 15 years is likely to be from renewable energy, reducing dependence on highly polluting coal.
  • Resource efficiency: Phasing out the $600 billion currently spent on subsidies for fossil fuels (compared to $100 billion on renewable energy) will help to improve energy efficiency and make funds available for poverty reduction.
  • Infrastructure investment: New financial instruments can cut capital costs for clean energy by up to 20 percent.
  • Innovation: Tripling research and development in low-carbon technologies to at least 0.1 percent of GDP can drive a new wave of innovation for growth.

Better Growth, Better Climate sets out a 10-point Global Action Plan of recommendations that will lead to net benefits to the economy, the commission says.

The commission calculates that if fully implemented its recommendations could potentially achieve up to 90 percent of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to avoid dangerous climate change. This would require decisive and early action by economic decision-makers, the report says.

Over the next six months the commission will discuss the report with economic decision-makers across the world.

On Sept. 22, the eve of the Climate Summit, the Ford Foundation, together with the Climate and Land Use Alliance, will host a meeting among major corporate, indigenous and government leaders for a conversation about what it will take to slow deforestation, reduce conflict over forests and stem global climate change.


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