Economic growth and reducing the risk of climate change are possible at the same time, but economies need to invest in climate-friendly policies in the next 15 years, according to a report by a global partnership released Tuesday.

Climate Change
Climate Change

The report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, a worldwide initiative to identify the economic costs and benefits of reducing climate change, found that current practices destroying the environment can be reversed, but only through radical changes.

“There is a general perception [among political and financial leaders] that taking responsible action in order to tackle climate change could reduce the economic growth,” said former Mexican president Felipe Calderon, who chairs the commission.

“Our main conclusion is, yes, it is possible to get economic growth and at the same time tackle climate change, but that would require structural changes in the next couple years.”

Calderon said that the next 15 years will “determine the future of the world” including the climate system, warning that the cost of taking action to reduce climate change will become more expensive every year.

The report found that 90 trillion dollars will be invested in infrastructure globally in the coming years, and the question is whether those investments will be made to establish low-carbon economies.

Investments need to focus on the structural transformation in three key areas – energy systems, land use and urban development – to achieve lasting results in preserving the environment.

The report recommends focusing on energy efficiency using low-carbon and renewable energy sources, which can be made possible by falling clean energy prices, especially those of wind and solar power.

Sustainable use of land, including the development of new soil management technologies and stopping deforestation, will be needed to feed the world’s growing population, which is projected to be above 8 billion by 2030, the report found.

Cities, which are responsible for 80 per cent of economic output and 70 per cent of energy use and energy-related emissions, need to be carefully planned to be more compact and centered on public transportation to reduce environmental and economic costs, the report said.

To achieve the transitions recommended by the report, world leaders need to take decisive action with a long-term view in mind, the commission said.

The comission includes political leaders, such as former Chilean president Richardo Lagos, leaders of financial institutions, such as Bank of America chairman Chad Holliday, and leaders from inter-governmental organizations such as Helen Clark, the head of the UN Development Programme.

The report comes a week before world leaders are set to gather in New York for a one-day UN Climate Summit.



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