Nations do not have to choose between prosperity and environmental protection anymore thanks to new technological innovations and infrastructure investment, a group of leading figures from governments and business has said in a new analysis.
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The report has been released by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, who will present the findings at the UN climate summit in New York next week.
The organisation is made up of 24 leaders from government, business, finance and economics in 19 countries and advised by a panel of economists chaired by Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the 2006 Stern review on climate change.
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According to the analysis, modern technological innovations and infrastructure investment are making it possible for countries to fight climate change and improve economic performances at the same time.
This is particularly evident in three sectors of the global economy – cities, land use and energy – where governments simply need to invest in high quality infrastructure, encourage technological innovation and improve resource efficiency.
Stern, co-chair of the Global Commission said, “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.”
For instance, the report says, by building new, well-connected, low-emissions public transport systems, governments could save more than $3 trillion (£1.8tn) in investment costs over the next 15 years.
Similar savings can come from the falling cost of renewables and the phasing out of subsidies for fossil fuels, while the restoration of just 12% of the world’s degraded lands could mean 200 million more people could be fed and farmers’ income could grow by $40 billion (£24.7bn) a year.
The Global Commission argues that whilst many entrepreneurs and investors have grasped the potential of a low-carbon economy, governments need to do more to unlock investment opportunities.
Jeremy Oppenheim, Global Programme Director of the New Climate Economy project commented, “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.”
Photo: Jako Jellema via Flickr