Arresting Global Warming Doesn’t Mean More Money, Top Panel Says

  • Planned infrastructure spending can cover needs, GCEC reports
  • Global infrastructure spending seen at $90 trillion by 2031

Curbing global warming doesn’t necessarily mean increasing infrastructure spending, according to a key commission created to avert dangerous climate change.

The world is expected to invest $90 trillion on all infrastructure in the next 15 years which is more than the present value of all existing infrastructure combined, according to a report released Thursday by the former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, who’s the chairman of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. The money will be spent on projects like road, grid and bridge replacements in advanced economies along with new infrastructure in developing regions.

“We can invest the $90 trillion in the dirty unsustainable infrastructure of the past or leap forward into the clean and efficient infrastructure of the future,” Calderon said in a conference call. “It basically has the same costs and net present value.”

Calderon’s commission works with other groups including the International Monetary Fund and International Energy Agency to create tools turning climate ambition into action. The COP21 climate deal struck in Paris in December is in the process of being ratified. Sixty-three countries accounting for over half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions have now formally agreed to implement the deep greenhouse-gas-emission cuts it requires.

The Paris-based IEA estimates the pledged pollution cleanup costs will be about $16.5 trillion. Ratification of the agreement means countries can start fulfilling their obligations, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

Calderon and his board are urging governments and the private sector to take advantage of low interest rates to spur rapid technological change to implement green projects. Clean infrastructure typically has a higher up-front cost but the difference is leveled out over time because of efficiency gains, according to the report.

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