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New Study: Economic Effects of Climate Protection Drastically Underestimated

Climate protection measures like the energy transition necessitate investment - however, the resulting positive effects on the economy have so far been drastically underestimated. By 2030, such investments could generate 26 trillion dollars.

Climate change can only be stopped by drastic measures (Image: Pixabay)Climate change can only be stopped by drastic measures (Image: Pixabay)

A report published recently by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate concludes that the benefits of cleaner, climate-friendly growth might be immense. Bold climate protection measures could bring at least 26 trillion US dollars in economic benefits by 2030 compared to business-as-usual procedures.

In the last decade in particular, there have been extensive technological and market-economy advances that have paved the way for an economy that is compatible with climate protection. The report identifies five key economic systems that need to be modernized: energy supply, urban planning, food and resource use, water use and industry.

“We are at a unique 'use it or lose it' moment”, said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Co-Chair of the Global Commission. “Policy makers should take their feet off the brakes, send a clear signal that the new growth story is here and that it comes with exciting economic and market opportunities. US$26 trillion and a more sustainable planet are on offer, if we act decisively now.”

Alternative energy supply, urban planning and the business sector must be more closely interlinked (Image: Pixabay)

The report promises nothing less than a better world. A rapid change in the system by 2030 could:

  • create over 65 million new low-emission jobs, equivalent to today's entire workforces of the UK and Egypt combined
  • prevent more than 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution, and
  • generate approx. 2.8 trillion US dollars in government revenue per year - this corresponds to India's current total GDP. The money is to be reinvested through fair subsidy distribution and CO2 pricing for investments in other areas such as education, thus benefiting the entire population.

At first glance, the demands seem like a beautiful but unattainable utopia, but the authors are convinced that it is not so unrealistic - because system change has long since begun. “The momentum from businesses, states, cities, investors and citizens is now unstoppable, not least because those taking bold climate action are already seeing tangible benefits,” said Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever and Co-Chair of the Global Commission. “But if we are to unlock the full benefits of this new low carbon growth opportunity and avoid runaway climate change, economic and financial leaders in both government and the private sector need to do even more, and fast.”

One week before the next climate summit in San Francisco, the report will first be presented to the United Nations. The authors also hope that this publicity will increase the pressure on the heads of government, business and finance to urgently set priorities for action on four fronts over the next two to three years:

  • Ramp up efforts on carbon pricing and move to mandatory disclosure of cliamte-related financial risks
  • Accelerate investment in sustainable infrastructure
  • Harness the power of the private sector and unleash innovation and 
  • Build a people-centred approach that shares the gains equitably and ensures that the transition is just

Brave new world? Perhaps. But: “This is more than just a report. It is a manifesto for how we can turn better growth and a better climate into reality. It is time we decisively legislate, innovate, govern, and invest our way to a fairer, safer, more sustainable world,” says Felipe Calderon, Mexico's former President, now Honorary Chair of the Commission.

Katrin Radtke
climate protection, climate change, economy, commission, United Nations, climate summit, policy

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