Jan. 8, 2015, Toronto - A new report - Better Growth, Better Climate - finds that governments and businesses can improve economic growth and reduce their carbon emissions at the same time. Rapid technological innovation and new investment in infrastructure make it possible to tackle climate change while improving economic performance.
By Amie Silverwood
The British High Commission in Ottawa together with the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Embassy of Sweden, the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate have joined forces in Toronto to launch the New Climate Economy Report in Canada.
The Canada launch, hosted at the Munk School on 13 January 2015 from 10am to 1.30pm, brings together expert speakers from academia, industry, and think tanks to share findings from the New Climate Economy report, including the US case study, and explore its implications for Canadian business leaders and decision makers.
This event is free and open to the public, and will also be available via live webcast at. Online registration is required at munkschool.utoronto.ca/event/17681/.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate comprises 24 leaders from government, business, finance and economics in 19 countries. Leading research institutes from China, India, the US, Brazil, Korea, Europe and Africa conducted a year-long study, advised by a panel of world-leading economists chaired by Lord Stern, the British economist widely known for the 2006 Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change
Better Growth, Better Climate includes examples of policies that can fight dangerous climate change while also growing economies in countries around the world, including Canada.
Over the next 15 years about $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy even under business-as-usual. But the report finds that the world has an unprecedented opportunity now to invest in low-carbon growth instead, at about the same cost, bringing multiple benefits to jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life.
Strong growth can be combined with lower emissions in three key areas of the global economy – cities, land use and energy. To achieve this, governments and businesses need to improve resource efficiency, invest in quality infrastructure, and stimulate technological and business innovation.
• Cities: Building better connected, more compact cities based on mass public transport could save over $3 trillion in investment costs over the next 15 years. This would improve economic performance and quality of life with lower emissions.
• Land use: Restoring just 12% of the world’s degraded land could feed 200 million people and raise farmers’ incomes by $40 billion a year – and also cut emissions from deforestation.
• Energy: Globally, the full investment impact of a low-carbon transition in the electricity sector would be a net financial benefit of up to US$1.8 trillion over the period 2015-2035, including stranded asset costs in oil, coal, and natural gas.
• Resource efficiency: Phasing out the $600 billion currently spent on subsidies for fossil fuels (compared to $100 billion on renewable energy) would help to improve energy efficiency and make funds available for better-targeted poverty reduction.
• Infrastructure investment: New financial instruments would cut capital costs for clean energy by up to 20%.
• Innovation: Tripling research and development in low-carbon technologies to at least 0.1% of GDP would drive a new wave of innovation for growth. Competitive markets and consistent government policy signals are essential for businesses and investors to create low-carbon jobs and growth. By establishing a strong carbon price and a level playing field through an international climate agreement, governments could unlock new investment and innovation.
Better Growth, Better Climate sets out a detailed 10-point Global Action Plan of practical recommendations that could achieve greater prosperity and a safer climate at the same time. These measures would all lead to net benefits to the economy, even before their climate benefits were considered.
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.
The Better Growth, Better Climate report, including infographics and other materials, is available online at www.newclimateeconomy.report. The US case study, Creating a New Climate Economy in the United States, can be found at www.newclimateeconomy.report/united-states.