National growth ‘not limited by tackling climate change’

Almost all actions needed to limit global warming to two degrees will provide domestic economic benefits, according to a paper published today (13 July) by the Grantham Research Institute.

The paper, titled Nationally self-interested climate change mitigation, suggests that almost all measures required to limit climate change offer economic incentives. Benefits to nations of cutting emissions include reducing air pollution, improving public health, improving land use and ensuring energy security.

The research argues against suggestions cutting carbon emissions will ultimately prove to be net-costly to countries, arguing new findings and developing technologies make the case for the economic benefits of tackling climate change.

Net benefits

The paper claims: “The majority of the global emissions reductions needed to decarbonise the global economy can be achieved in ways that are nationally net-beneficial to countries, even leaving aside the ‘climate benefits’.”

The research contradicts the notion that nations can ‘free-ride’ on the efforts of larger nations by minimising their own action on climate change.

Mutual gains

The author of the paper, Fergus Green, said: “The findings of this research suggest that the traditional assumption that action on climate change is net-costly is false. Those who think there is an incentive for countries to ‘free-ride’ on the climate protection provided by others are very much mistaken.

“Countries should see the climate talks in Paris this December as an opportunity to work with each other to deliver as quickly as possible the mutual gains that can result from decarbonising the economy.”

The claim that countries stand to gain from acting on climate change has been echoed by recent studies from the group New Climate Economy. That report argued that future economic growth and action to tackle climate change would go hand-in-hand.

Commenting on the report for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Change, Lord Nicholas Stern said: “Strong economic growth that is also low-carbon is going to become the new normal.”

Recent figures from the renewable energy industry have found investment is down 28% compared to last year, to around $53bn. 2014 saw record levels of investment in clean energy, totaling $310bn.

Matt Field

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