Business / Economy

Climate change solutions 'won't hinder economic growth'

By Mu Chen ( Updated: 2014-09-18 19:11

A report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate has challenged the assumption that tackling climate change will come at a serious cost to economic growth.

"After a year of hard work, we have reached a clear conclusion," said the chairman of the commission, Felipe Calderon, the former president of Mexico. "It is possible to have better growth and a better climate."

Speaking at the China launch of the New Climate Economy report in Beijing on Thursday, Calderon said that now is the time for the world to make fundamental changes and smart choices – before it is too late.

The report estimates that some $90 trillion will be invested in the world's urban, land use and energy systems in the next 15 years. However, if governments opt to invest in low-carbon infrastructure, the cost would only be an additional $4 trillion, about 5 percent more.

These higher capital costs could potentially be fully offset by lower operating costs and savings on public health, as well as a reduction in climate risk, the report said.

Jeremy Oppenheim, program director of the New Climate Economy, said: "Serious decision makers across the world increasingly understand that achieving lasting, secure economic growth is only possible by also taking strong climate action."

At the heart of the issue are many nations' policies that still favor the use of fossil fuels.

While global subsidies for clean energy amount to about $100 million per year, subsidies for fossil fuels are estimated at about $600 million per year, the report said.

"We are paying to pollute and that cannot continue," said Calderon.

In November, the China New Climate Economy report, which will look at the issue from the national perspective, will be published by Tsinghua University in collaboration with the commission.

China is the top global investor in renewable energy and plans to launch a national carbon trading program by 2016, which are both moves in the right direction, Oppenheim said.

Chen Yuan, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and a member of the commission, said: "As a responsible developing nation, China attaches great importance to dealing with climate change and has worked actively to combat it.

"China has already incorporated the fight against climate change into of our national economic and social development strategy," said Chen.

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