Economic growth and action on climate can be achieved together, global commission finds

16th September 2014

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Caroline James

Governments and businesses can reduce carbon emissions and achieve economic growth at the same time, a report by a commission of world leaders and economic experts has concluded.

The study was undertaken over a year by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which comprises 24 leaders from government, business, finance and economics in 19 countries.

The panel of world-leading economists included Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the groundbreaking 2006 study on the economics of climate change.

The findings are part of a drive by the commission to stimulate stronger action by governments and businesses on climate change, and debunk concerns that countries must choose between fighting climate change and economic growth.

Around $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy over the next 15 years, the study found.

This provides an unprecedented opportunity to drive investment in low-carbon growth, bringing multiple benefits to jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life, it states.

The report proposes a 10-point global action plan, including integrating climate into core economic decision-making processes; phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; introducing predictable carbon prices; reducing capital costs for low-carbon infrastructure investments; stopping deforestation of natural forests; and restoring at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forests and agricultural land by 2030.

The commission believes that implementation of the policies and investments it proposes could deliver at least half of the reductions in emissions needed by 2030 to lower the risk of dangerous climate change.

However, “strong and broad” implementation, and sharing of best practice could see emissions cut by 90%, the report states. All the measures would deliver multiple economic and social benefits, as well as benefits to the climate, the commission points out.

“If we choose low-carbon investment we can generate strong, high-quality growth – not just in the future, but now,” said Stern. “But if we continue down the high-carbon route, climate change will bring severe risks to long-term prosperity.”

The commission has released its report ahead of next week’s UN summit on climate change in New York and will discuss the findings with economic decision-makers across the world.

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