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Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

A new report from the New Climate Economy shows that all countries can help to reduce the ‘immense risk of climate change’ while also building lasting economic growth – but the next 15 years are critical for action.

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Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report found that over the next 15 years, about US $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems.

This presents an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to drive investment in low-carbon growth, which would benefit jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life, as well as helping to cut global emissions.

‘The New Climate Economy report refutes the idea that we must choose between fighting climate change or growing the world’s economy. That is a false dilemma… technological change is driving new opportunities to improve growth, create jobs, boost company profits and spur economic development. The report sends a clear message to government and private sector leaders: we can improve the economy and tackle climate change at the same time.’

Felipe Calderón, former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

The report, which was released by a commission of global leaders, reveals that governments and businesses can now improve economic growth and reduce their carbon emissions together, and that there are three key areas in which the global economy can achieve strong growth with lower emissions.

Cities, land use and energy

Building better connected, more compact cities based on mass public transport could save over $3 trillion in investment costs over the next 15 years. As well as improving economic performance, quality of life would get a boost from lower emissions.

‘The message to leaders is clear. We don’t have to choose between economic growth and a safe climate. We can have both. We can choose better growth and a better climate.’

Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

Restoring just 12% of the world’s degraded lands could feed another 200 million people and raise farmers’ incomes by $40 billion a year – while also cutting emissions from deforestation.

As the price of solar and wind power falls dramatically, over half of new electricity generation over the next 15 years is likely to be from renewable energy, reducing dependence on highly polluting coal.

What we need to do

The report states that governments and businesses need to improve resource efficiency, invest in good-quality infrastructure and stimulate innovations in technology and business in order to achieve the growth that’s possible.

Phasing out the $600 billion currently spent on subsidies for fossil fuels (compared with $100 billion on renewable energy) would help to improve energy efficiency and make money available for helping to reduce poverty.

Tripling research and development in low-carbon technologies to at least 0.1% of GDP can drive a new wave of innovation for growth.

‘Major companies, smart investors and a new generation of entrepreneurs are already demonstrating how markets can drive low-carbon growth. But inconsistent policy in many countries is now creating uncertainty, hurting investment and job creation. Businesses and investors need clearer market signals.’

Jeremy Oppenheim, Global Programme Director of the New Climate Economy project

90% emissions cuts by 2030

Better Growth, Better Climate sets out a detailed 10-point Global Action Plan of practical recommendations that can achieve greater prosperity and a safer climate at the same time.

These measures will all lead to net benefits to the economy, even before their climate benefits are considered.

‘The decisions we make now will determine the future of our economy and our climate. If we choose low-carbon investment we can generate strong, high-quality growth – not just in the future, but now. But if we continue down the high-carbon route, climate change will bring severe risks to long-term prosperity.’

Lord Nicholas Stern, Co-Chair of the Global Commission

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

Over the next six months the Commission will discuss the report with economic decision-makers across the world. It aims to stimulate stronger action by governments and businesses to drive growth and emissions reductions together.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate comprises 24 leaders from government, business, finance and economics in 19 countries. A year-long study has been conducted by leading research institutes from Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom and United States, advised by a panel of world-leading economists chaired by Lord Nicholas Stern. You can read the full report on the New Climate Economy website.

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