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New Climate Economy: Low carbon society good for climate, business and citizens

New Climate Economy

A new report shows that transitioning to a low-carbon society is not only good for the climate but good for the economy. Creative Commons: André van Rooyen, 2009

Just one week before world leaders meet in New York for the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit, a major new report shows how policies to maintain a safe and secure climate will mean a better quality of life for millions of people around the world.

The report, Better Growth, Better Climate, confirms that tackling climate change is affordable and that action will bring multiple benefits.

Spearheaded by leading names in finance, business and politics – including feted UK economist Lord Nicholas Stern and Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon – dispels the myth that action on climate change comes at the cost of people’s living standards.

Instead it underlines that better jobs, cleaner air, and happier, healthier communities are all consequences of ambitious policies to cut carbon.

It also shows that governments and businesses can reduce their carbon emissions, while at the same time creating jobs and remaining dynamic leaders in their fields.

Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate said:

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. Today’s report details compelling evidence on how 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.

And now is the time to act, according to experts.

Over the next 15 years around $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy.

The world has an unprecedented opportunity to ensure this investment goes into low-carbon growth, says the report.

Lord Nicholas Stern, Co-Chair of the Global Commission said:

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.

It details 10 action points for governments and business to ensure that such an investment drive towards a low-carbon society becomes reality, showing how the world could achieve 90% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to avoid the worst climate impacts.

The 10 action points include:

  • integrating climate change into core economic decisions and accelerating the low-carbon transition;
  • a strong, lasting and fair international climate agreement;
  • phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs and incentives for urban sprawl;
  • introducing strong, predictable carbon prices;
  • substantially reducing the costs of low-carbon infrastructure investments;
  • scaling up innovation in key low-carbon and climate resilient technologies;
  • making connected and compact cities the preferred form of urban development;
  • stopping deforestation of natural forests by 2030;
  • restoring at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forests and agricultural lands by 2030;
  • accelerating the shift away from polluting coal-fired power generation.

Better Growth, Better Climate released today by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate is the work of 24 leaders from 19 countries spanning the worlds of government, business, finance and economics.

They, in turn, were advised by a panel of eminent economists, including Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the hugely influential 2006 review that examined the economic implications of failing to tackle climate change.

Indeed, this latest report is being hailed as the ‘Stern Report 2.0’, moving the debate forward and examining the benefits of taking strong and timely action.

The year-long study was conducted by more than 100 research institutes the world over, from China, India, the US, Brazil, Korea, Europe and Africa and provides a comprehensive look at what transitioning to a low carbon society could mean for jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life.

It offers yet more proof that there are no arguments left in favour of sticking to outdated fossil-fuels and plenty of good reasons for governments and leaders from business and finance to embrace the transition to a cleaner, healthier society run on renewable energy sources.

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