How a Paris deal can tackle climate change and boost the economy

Jessica Shankleman

New Climate Economy report urges countries to commit to 10 measures that will close emissions gap by 2030

If world leaders sign a much-anticipated climate change deal in Paris at the end this year, there is no doubt that it will still ultimately fail to deliver on the 2ºC global warming limit that countries have agreed.

As the International Energy Agency last month showed, the pledges countries have already put on the table to be included in a deal will simply not be enough to constrain global warming sufficiently.

To fix this, countries will also need to agree to review their carbon reduction targets every five or 10 years and ratchet up ambition to further reduce greenhouse gases year-on-year.

And if they agree to that ratcheting mechanism, countries need to decide on the best policies that will get them there at the lowest costs, or even offering the biggest boost to their economies.

Now a new report from the New Climate Economy (NEC) - a coalition of 20 countries chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Lord Nicholas Stern - aims to answer that question. The report, published today, sets out 10 actions which they say can deliver the vast majority of emissions cuts needed to close the emissions gap.

In 2030, the world is expected to be emitting 69 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2eq) per year, but this needs to be 42 GT CO2eq per year in order to remain on the 2ºC pathway, say scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The NEC says its recommendations could deliver about 26 Gt CO2eq per year of those savings, equal to 96 per cent of the emissions reductions needed.

Investing in clean energy and tackling deforestation would have the biggest impacts, the report shows.

It estimates that boosting clean energy financing to $1tr per year would save 6.5 Gt Co2eq/year on average, while eliminating deforestation by 2030 and restoring degraded land would save on average 6.2 Gt Co2eq/per year.

Upgrading global energy efficiency standards meanwhile could save on average 5.7 Gt CO2eq per year and rolling out carbon pricing globally could save 4.2 Gt CO2eq on average per year.

Speaking ahead of the report launch, Stern said the findings could be essential to any deal in Paris and maintained that countries current emissions pledges should be viewed as "floors not ceilings".

"[Countries] should recognise that the actions we're describing to ramp up ambition to the point where the path looks like a two degree path to 2030 are not only feasible [...] they're also very attractive - cleaner, more efficient, less congested, much more healthy, more biodiverse and so on."

"This is the only growth story on offer. And in the language of our earlier report, 'better growth, better climate'."

The report has been welcomed by a wide range of businesses and government leaders. Chad Holliday, chairman of Shell, said it was time for governments to "get on with the job of making the transition" to a low carbon economy.

"Momentum is building for a New Climate Economy," he said. "Business follows the money, and the money can increasingly be found in low-carbon economic growth."

Naina Lal Kidwai, chairman of HSBC India and director of HSBC Asia Pacific, said tackling climate change was also essential to tackling poverty.

"International cooperation can drive both more inclusive economic growth and more ambitious climate mitigation, reducing the risks to the world's poor," she said.

"Businesses can play a major role in this, for instance, off-grid energy is a huge market in India and at the same time provides major social and environmental benefits. Together, a prosperous, low-carbon future is within our reach."

UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd,  said the report shows that growth, creating jobs and tackling climate change can go hand in hand and that "action to protect our planet does not have to come at the expense of our prosperity today". 


This article is part of the BusinessGreen Road to Paris Hub, hosted in assocation with PwC.

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