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World Leaders Say Addressing Climate Change Offers Unprecedented Opportunities for Economic Growth

Climate

Calling it a "false dilemma," former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, speaking as chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, disputed the idea that the world economy must suffer in order to fight climate change. He said that, on the contrary, addressing the climate offered unprecedented opportunities for economic growth.

Addressing climate change offers unprecedented opportunities for economic growth around the world. Photo credit: The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

The group of 24 international government, business, finance and economic leaders released a report today, Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report, with an event at UN headquarters in New York, attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The year-long study involved researchers in Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom and United States.

“Today’s report details compelling evidence on how technological change is driving new opportunities to improve growth, create jobs, boost company profits and spur economic development," said Calderón. "The report sends a clear message to government and private sector leaders: we can improve the economy and tackle climate change at the same time.”

Saying "urbanization, rising consumption and population growth have put immense pressure on natural resources," the report outlined the potential investments that could fuel economic growth, estimating that as much as $90 trillion will be invested over the next 15 years in energy, urban infrastructure, and land use and agriculture to reduce environmental impacts.

It recommended that governments and businesses improve resource efficiency, invest in quality infrastructure, and encourage technological and business innovation, finding that all three areas offered opportunities for dramatic growth while improving quality of life. It emphasized the importance of an international climate agreement to create a level playing field and consistent government policies that don't leave businesses and investors wondering if a new administration will alter regulations.

The report included a 10-point global action plan that laid out the route to fighting climate change while stimulating the global economy and fighting poverty. Among other things, it suggested making urban areas more compact and reliant on public transportation, restoring degraded lands and ending deforestation, phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, and investing in research and development in low-carbon technologies.

“The decisions we make now will determine the future of our economy and our climate,” said economist Lord Nicholas Stern, co-chair of the commission. “If we choose low-carbon investment we can generate strong, high-quality growth—not just in the future, but now. But if we continue down the high-carbon route, climate change will bring severe risks to long-term prosperity."

"There is no option but to transform our world to a zero-carbon future," said commission member Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. "We will fight to ensure that no one is left behind. This report breaks new ground and gives workers and businesses the confidence that there can be an economic plan which creates jobs and sets our planet on the course for survival.”

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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