Another study has found that mitigating climate change not only helps the environment, but is actually beneficial for the economy.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate put together a report to “examine whether it is possible to achieve lasting economic growth while also tackling the risks of climate change.”
Opponents of climate change action tend to argue that it’s too costly. But the report found that, if governments are motivated to support smart urban growth, they can reduce carbon emissions without negatively impacting the economy.
“Countries at all levels of income now have the opportunity to build lasting economic growth at the same time as reducing the immense risks of climate change,” the report states.
Over the next 15 years, the economy will more than double and at least one billion people will move to cities. The world will spend around $90 trillion on infrastructure.
At the same time, if no climate action is taken, warming will continue to increase. The report warns that the longer the world waits to do something about it, the harder it will be to transition to a low-carbon economy.
The report suggests that governments should use the money they were already going to spend on sustaining urban sprawl over the next 15 years on implementing a low-carbon system instead.
“This would mean building more compact, connected, coordinated cities rather than continuing with unmanaged sprawl; restoring degraded land and making agriculture more productive rather than continuing deforestation; scaling up renewable energy sources rather than continued dependence on fossil fuels,” the report states.
In order to make this transition, cities would need to end fossil fuel subsidies (which the energy industry won’t be pleased with), invest in research and development of low-carbon technologies, and have “strong political leadership and the active participation of civil society.”
The report states that by “combining renewable energy with reduced fossil fuel investment, more compact cities, and more efficiently managed energy demand,” infrastructure costs will only increase by $270 billion per year. But these have the potential to be offset by lower operating costs.
The report concludes with a 10-point action plan. The plan includes a call for a “strong” climate agreement and for lawmakers to think about climate when they make economic decisions. It also stresses sound environmental policy, such as halting the deforestation of national forests, restoring degraded forests, and moving away from coal.
“Implementation of the policies and investments proposed in this report could deliver at least half of the reductions in emissions needed by 2030 to lower the risk of dangerous climate change,” the report states.” All the measures would deliver multiple economic and social benefits, even before considering their benefit to climate.”
This report comes the week before the United Nations’ Climate Summit, where countries will discuss national commitments towards combating climate change and a possible international agreement in 2015. It’s been five years since the summit in Copenhagen, which “ended up simmering into mediocrity,” according to Think Progress‘ Ari Phillips.
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