Fight Against Climate Change Seen Driving Economic Growth

Government and industry leaders need not choose between fighting climate change or growing the world’s economy. They can do both, according to a new study.

Countries can expand their economies through emissions reductions in cities, land use and energy, according to a report released today by the Global Commission on the Economy & Climate, a panel set up by seven nations including the U.K. to advise on the best ways to tackle global warming.

The report, which found that about $90 trillion will be invested in city infrastructure over the next 15 years, comes a week before world leaders head to New York for a climate summit hosted by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“The report sends a clear message to government and private sector leaders: we can improve the economy and tackle climate change at the same time,” former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, the commission chairman, said in an e-mailed statement.

Building better-connected cities relying on mass public transportation may save more than $3 trillion in investment costs over the next 15 years and would improve economic performance and quality of life, according to the report.

“Climate protection has become a growth engine,” Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s environment minister, said today in an e-mailed statement. The world needs a shift away from coal to renewables, she said.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is seeking to replace nuclear reactors with renewables.

‘Severe Risks’

Restoring 12 percent of the world’s degraded lands can feed 200 million people and raise farmers’ income by $40 billion a year, today’s report said. Governments should also triple research and development in low-carbon technologies to at least 0.1 percent of gross domestic product and phase out $600 billion of fossil fuel subsidies, it said.

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

The research was carried out by economic and policy groups including the World Resources Institute and the London School of Economics and Political Science, with contributions from the OECD, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the International Energy Agency.

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