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New Global Commission Aims A More Direct Approach To Tackling Climate Change

By Prof. Nagarathinam & Marianne de Nazareth

25 September, 2013

Can you see lines of cars purring down roads with no black smoke and pollution in sight? For us in burgeoning cities, in developing countries across the world, that is a dream we would all love to live. Especially now that's its proven that the black carbon being spewed out is carcinogenic.

Read what Måns Nilsson, research director, Stockholm Environment Institute says and we will realise that the dream is possible. “Many see climate action as too costly and against their national or business interests, and this has eroded the political will to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, economic studies tend to oversimplify and fail to take into account factors such as the dynamics of innovation, energy security, quality of life, and other potential benefits of low-carbon transitions. This research project aims to fill those critical knowledge gaps. What we learn about the broader implications of low-carbon transitions that may very well shift the scales in favour of more far-reaching mitigation.”

Keeping this in mind, a new Climate Economy project led by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, with government, business and finance leaders from 14 countries has been floated. As evidence of human-induced climate change mounts, a new global commission has been launched which will analyze the economic costs and benefits of acting on climate change. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate comprises leaders from government, finance and business from 14 countries, and is chaired by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón. The commission will be based in London and New York, but work will be done around the world – the research institutions and commission members are in more than a dozen countries.

The Commission is launching the New Climate Economy project, bringing together some of the world’s foremost economic experts to examine how stronger economic performance can be supported by good climate policy. The project aims to contribute to the global debate about economic policy, and to inform government, business and investment decisions.

“Climate impacts are rising and the evidence of warming is increasingly clear, but most economic analysis still does not properly factor in the increasing risks of climate change or the potential benefits of acting on it,” said Commission Chair and former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón. “We need urgently to identify how we can achieve economic growth and job creation while also reducing emissions and tackling climate change.”

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate is an independent initiative established by a group of seven countries: Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Korea, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. A partnership of research institutes from six continents will carry out the analysis.

“At a time when governments throughout the world are struggling to boost growth, increase access to energy, and improve food security, it is essential that the full costs and benefits of climate policies are more clearly understood,” said Lord Nicholas Stern, Vice-Chair of the Commission and author of the 2006 Stern Review. “It cannot be a case of either achieving growth or tackling global warming. It must be both.”

In addition to President Calderón, members of the Commission (all serving in a personal capacity) include: Ingrid Bonde, CFO andDeputy CEO of Vattenfall; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; Helen Clark, head of the UN Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Luísa Diogo, former Prime Minister of Mozambique; S. (Kris) Gopalakrishnan, Executive Vice-Chairman of Infosys and President of the Confederation of Indian Industry; Chad Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America; Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank and former Finance Minister of Indonesia; Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile; Trevor Manuel, Minister and Chair of the Planning Commission and former Finance Minister of South Africa;Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Nemat (Minouche) Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF (Adviser); Lord Nicholas Stern, Professor at the London School of Economics; and Zhu Levin, President and CEO of the China International Capital Corporation.

An Advisory Panel of world-leading economists, including Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, will carry out an expert review of the work. The research institutes in the partnership are: the Climate Policy Initiative, Ethiopian Development Research Institute, Global Green Growth Institute, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Stockholm Environment Institute, Tsinghua University, and World Resources Institute.

The project will engage directly with key decision makers in finance ministries and with major businesses and investors, including leading economic organizations, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It will also invite contributions from a wide variety of academic, business and other institutions.

The New Climate Economy project will publish its comprehensive analysis in September 2014, a year before the culmination of negotiations for a new international climate agreement in Paris in 2015. The Commission will then take its findings and recommendations directly to heads of government, finance and economic ministers, business leaders and investors throughout the world.

Says Per Klevnäs, economist and coordinator of SEI’s role in the New Climate Economy project, “Decision-makers around the world are asking searching questions about the potential sources of future prosperity and economic growth. In so doing, they inevitably will need to confront a wide set of issues that also have direct bearing on climate change: from the implications of rapid urbanization, to the need to enable and engage with rapid technology innovation across a number of areas, to the imperative for continued productivity improvements in the use of natural resources.

This initiative will explore the options available to governments, cities, business leaders, and investors to achieve their current aims, while also reducing GHG emissions. There is considerable divergence of opinion on the prospect for ‘green growth’, and the need for an independent analysis of the evidence has never been greater.

Professor Nagarathinam (Department of Communication, Madurai Kamaraj University, India) and Marianne de Nazareth(St. Joseph’s PG College of Media Studies, Bangalore, India)


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