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Policy makers must act now to combat climate change and deliver lasting growth

Written by Kevin Watkins, Shelagh Whitley

​The Global Commission on Economy and Climate today released its landmark report, ‘Better growth, better climate’. Co-authored by Nicholas Stern, the report makes the economic case for cutting carbon emissions. It argues that the fight against climate change is an opportunity to build lasting economic growth - but only if decision makers act now.

ODI Executive Director Kevin Watkins, who provided a background paper for the Commission, said:

“The New Climate Economy report spells out the real choices facing policy makers. Over the next 15 years US$90 trillion will be spent on cities, energy infrastructure and land use. That spending could be the catalyst for a concerted drive to combat climate change, generate jobs and eradicate poverty. It is time for governments to reflect in their economic policies the threat posed by climate change – and the opportunities provided by a low-carbon transition."

Shelagh Whitley, Research Fellow in ODI’s Climate and Environment Programme, added: 

“The report highlights the destructive effects of market failures reinforced by the wrong policy choices. Subsidies to polluting fossil fuels currently far outweigh subsidies for clean energy. Phasing out these fossil fuel subsidies can improve growth and release resources that can be reallocated to benefit people on low incomes. We also need a strong and predictable price on carbon to drive higher energy productivity and provide new fiscal revenues.”