The New Climate Economy Report: Better Growth, Better Climate

This study from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds that governments and businesses can reduce their carbon emissions and improve economic growth. ‘Better Growth, Better Climate’ describes how rapid technological innovation and new investment in infrastructure are making it possible to mitigate climate change while improving economic performance.

The Commission, and its flagship project 'The New Climate Economy,' share extensive knowledge around issues of the economic impacts of climate change in this comprehensive global assessment. 

The report presents opportunities to achieve strong growth with lower emissions in three key sectors of the global economy including cities, land use and energy. The Commission recommends that to achieve this growth, governments and businesses need to improve resource efficiency, invest in good-quality infrastructure, and stimulate technological and business innovation.

Findings and strategies are provided in thorough detail for each sector and solution area.  Significant over-arching recommendations are summarized as follows:

• Cities: Building better connected, more compact cities based on mass public transport can save over US $3 trillion in investment costs over the next 15 years. These measures will improve economic performance and quality of life with lower emissions.

• Land use: Restoring just 12% of the world’s degraded lands can feed another 200 million people and raise farmers’ incomes by $40 billion a year – and also cut emissions from deforestation.

• Energy: As the price of solar and wind power falls dramatically, over half of new electricity generation over the next 15 years is likely to be from renewable energy, reducing dependence on highly polluting coal.

• Resource efficiency: Phasing out the $600 billion currently spent on subsidies for fossil fuels (compared to $100 billion on renewable energy) will help to improve energy efficiency and make funds available for poverty reduction.

• Infrastructure investment: New financial instruments can cut capital costs for clean energy by up to 20%.

• Innovation: Tripling research and development in low-carbon technologies to at least 0.1% of GDP can drive a new wave of innovation for growth.

A chapter is dedicated to each of the topic areas with perspectives on global innovations, solutions and future goals. For example, the chapter on Land Use makes the case for strategic investment and policy interventions to sharply increase agricultural productivity, reduce pressures on the land, and protect and restore forests.

To further demonstrate the detail by sector, the Land Use chapter:

- examines the changing context for agriculture and forestry, including population growth, resource scarcity, and the need to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

- reviews supply-side strategies to increase agricultural productivity, including new technologies and practices to increase crop yields, the role of input subsidies and other policy measures, sustainable ways to increase livestock productivity, and “landscape approaches” that boost crop yields while restoring and protecting key ecosystem services.

- looks at demand-side measures to ease pressures on natural resources, including ways to reduce food loss and waste, alternate approaches to biofuels, and the role of dietary changes.

- examines the natural capital of forests, trends in deforestation, forest degradation, afforestation, and reforestation, and ways to scale up and accelerate positive change.

- draws lessons from success stories around the world: from Korea, to China, Niger, Brazil, Costa Rica and the United States.

- ends with a series of recommendations.

For further discussion of some of these issues, see also Chapter 7: Innovation (biofuels) and Chapter 3: Cities (urban land use), as well as sections of Chapter 6: Finance and Chapter 8: International Cooperation.

The report finds that over the next 15 years, about US $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in the world’s cities, agriculture and energy systems. The consensus is that “the world has an unprecedented opportunity to drive investment in low-carbon growth, bringing multiple benefits including jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life.”


Publication Date: September 16, 2014


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