Strong political leadership to manage climate risk

Reducing the risks to climate change and creating economic growth is possible, according to a report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

The Better Growth, Better Climate – The New Climate Economy report, details using structural and technological changes to improve economic efficiencies. But strong political leadership and credible consistent policies are required to ensure it happens.

Chaired by Nicholas Stern, the report states the next 15 years will be critical as the global economy transforms and grows by more than half. Without stronger action over the next 10-15 years it is ‘near certain the global average warming will exceed 2º degrees’, the level the international community has agreed not to cross.

It highlights three key systems of the economy – improving the planning and structure of cities to create places that are economically dynamic, healthier and have lower emissions; implementing productive land use through new technologies and approaches to water and soil management that will raise crop and livestock productivity; and greater investment in renewable and low-carbon energy sources and in businesses, buildings and transport.

Mass public transport is integral when planning urban developments

sky train

Photo: samarttiw

To support these key systems of the economy three drivers of change have been identified to make the transformation – raising resource efficiency by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, a strong and predictable price on carbon and regulations such as performance standards on  appliances and vehicles; investing in low-carbon forms of infrastructure, removing the perception that this is high risk investment; and stimulating innovation in technologies, business models and social practices.

The report has a 10-point Global Action Plan, asking decision-makers to:

  1. Accelerate low-carbon transformation by integrating climate into core economic decision-making processes
  2. Enter into strong, lasting and equitable international climate agreement
  3. Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs, and incentives for urban sprawl
  4. Introduce strong, predictable carbon prices
  5. Substantially reduce capital costs for low-carbon infrastructure investments
  6. Scale up innovation in key low-carbon and climate resilient technologies
  7. Make connected and compact cities the preferred form of urban development
  8. Stop deforestation of natural forests by 2030
  9. Restore at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forests and agricultural lands by 2030
  10. Accelerate the shift away from polluting coal-fired power generation
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