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World Economy Can Reap $26 Trillion in a Decade by Fighting Climate Change

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Shifting from fossil fuels to cleaner energies such as solar power could prevent 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution in 2030. Dennis Schroeder / energy.gov

Fighting climate change could generate more than 65 million new low-carbon jobs, avoid more than 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution and add $26 trillion to the global economy all by 2030, according to a major report from international experts.

The report, however, warns policymakers there is a "critical" 2-3 year window to unlock these green benefits—or else the planet could barrel towards runaway climate change.


"Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century" was released Wednesday by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an international organization headed by former heads of government, finance ministers and business leaders.

The study's authors urge governments and the private sector to make decisive shifts, as a "business-as-usual" approach to climate could warm the planet 2°C by 2030, the threshold for dangerous global warming.

"We are at a unique 'use it or lose it' moment," said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria and co-chair of the Global Commission, in a press release. "Policy makers should take their feet off the brakes, send a clear signal that the new growth story is here and that it comes with exciting economic and market opportunities."

There are five key areas of green opportunities: developing clean energy systems, improving urban planning, shifting to sustainable agriculture, smart water management and decarbonizing industry, AFP reported from the study.

The report calls on governments to put a price on carbon emissions of at least $40-80 per tonne by 2020.

Subsidy reform and carbon pricing alone can generate an estimated $2.8 trillion in government revenues per year in 2030, it said.

"If we are to unlock the full benefits of this new low carbon growth opportunity and avoid runaway climate change, economic and financial leaders in both government and the private sector need to do even more, and fast," said Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever and co-chair of the Global Commission, in the press release.

The study also aims to dispel fears that shifting away from fossil fuels will undermine economic growth, Reuters reported, a contrast to President Trump's pro-fossil fuels, anti-regulatory agenda.

"There's still a perception that moving toward a low-carbon path would be costly," lead author Helen Mountford told Reuters. "What we are trying to do with this report is once and for all put the nails in the coffin on that idea."

The report will be presented Wednesday to the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres. It was also released a week ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, honorary chair of the Commission, added: "This is more than just a report. It is a manifesto for how we can turn better growth and a better climate into reality. It is time we decisively legislate, innovate, govern, and invest our way to a fairer, safer, more sustainable world."

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