The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate released its 2018 flagship report at the G20 meetings in Argentina on September 5 . Under the title, Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century: Accelerating Climate Action in Urgent Times , the report acknowledges that all models are imperfect, but its extensive research and modelling predicts that its “bold climate action” prescription could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030, and over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030, as well as avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution. As the final point in its action road map, it calls for Just Transition measures and a role for civil society and trade unions in their creation.
The report is structured around a sectoral approach, focused on energy, cities, food and land use, water, and industry. Across those economic sectors, every chapter hammers the theme of urgency, calling this the world’s “use it or lose it moment”. “The decisions we take over the next 2-3 years are crucial because of the urgency of a changing climate and the unique window of unprecedented structural changes already underway. The world is expected to invest about US$90 trillion on infrastructure in the period up to 2030, more than the entire current stock today. …. Investing it wisely will help drive innovation, deliver public health benefits, create a host of new jobs and go a long way to tackling the risks of runaway climate change. Getting it wrong, on the other hand, will lock us into a high-polluting, low productivity, and deeply unequal future. “
Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century calls for the following urgent actions:
- “governments should put a price on carbon and move toward mandatory climate risk disclosure for major investors and companies.” (Specifically, the carbon price for the G20 economies should be at least US$40-80 by 2020, with a predictable pricing pathway to around US$50-100 by 2030, accompanied by a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and harmful agricultural subsidies and tax-breaks by 2025);
- all economies should place much greater emphasis on investing in sustainable infrastructure as a central driver of the new growth approach;
- “ the full power of the private sector and innovation needs to be harnessed.” (Specifically, “ By 2020, all Fortune 500 companies should have science-based targets that align with the Paris Agreement.” Governments need to change regulations, incentives and tax mechanisms that are a major barrier to implementing a low-carbon and more circular economy, and public-private partnerships should be encouraged.
- “a people-centred approach is needed to ensure lasting, equitable growth and a just transition. It is good economics and good politics.”….“All governments should establish clear Energy Transition Plans to reach net-zero energy systems, and work with energy companies, trade unions, and civil society to ensure a just transition for workers and communities. Successfully diversifying local economies as we shift away from coal and eventually other fossil fuels will require multi-stakeholder dialogue, strategic assistance, re-training, and targeted social protection.”
The Global Commission is comprised of government leaders, academics, and business leaders, including Sharan Burrow of the ITUC, and Lord Nicholas Stern. Established in 2013, the Commission published its first, landmark report in the New Climate Economy initiative in 2014: Better Growth, Better Climate , which established its position that there is no trade-off between growth and strong climate action. In addition to the annual policy document, international climate issues are published in a Working Paper series, available here .