We greatly underestimate the economic and social benefits of an effective and fierce fight against climate change, warn researchers at the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate. Their latest report, published on 5 September, was handed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierres, and it illustrates a new growth model for the 21st century based on low carbon and resilient development.
Huge socio-economic gains
More than 200 experts participated in this study. Their conclusions are clear: this paradigm shift is a source of opportunity. Ambitious climate action could generate $26 trillion in cumulative economic gains compared to a business-as-usual scenario. In addition, 65 million jobs could be created by this shift to a low-carbon economy, equivalent to the total current workforce in the United Kingdom and Egypt. And thanks to subsidy reforms and carbon pricing, government revenues could increase by $2.8 trillion per year by 2030, the equivalent of India's current GDP.
Earnings could also be important for health. The fight against climate change would prevent 700,000 premature deaths due to air pollution.
"We are at a unique ‘use it or lose it’ moment”, said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian finance minister and co-chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate. But this requires an immediate change of course. “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,” said Okonjo-Iweala.
Leading the change
The authors call on governments to take urgent action in the next three years because it is during this period that crucial decisions will be made that will shape the next 10 to 15 years. "This text is more than a report, it is a manifesto on how we move towards better growth and a better climate," said Felipe Calderon, former President of Mexico and Honorary President of the Commission.
To accelerate the transition to a low-carbon world, the authors provide several recommendations. For example, they advocate accelerating the introduction of a carbon pricing, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, making the publication of climate-related financial risks mandatory, further mobilising the private sector, and equitably sharing gains to ensure a fair transition.
There are many paths that Nicolas Hulot’s successor, François de Rugy, can take to lead the change that is now expected by actors of the ecological transition.
Concepcion Alvarez @conce1