It has not taken long for people to understand that climate change is more than just an environmental issue. The impacts of global warming threaten people’s homes, their livelihoods, their food supply and their health. Businesses, transport systems and infrastructure are at risk. The economic consequences of unchecked climate change are likely to be huge. Dealing with climate change is also primarily an economic issue, affecting investment in the development and deployment of technology, international trade, competitiveness, jobs, equity and growth itself. It is this economic characteristic – coupled with the fact that climate change can only be successfully addressed at a global level – that has made reaching an ambitious international agreement so difficult, particularly in times of economic crisis. And, despite the fact that it is widely recognised that the cost of cutting emissions is far outweighed by the cost of doing nothing, concerns over our ability to deploy the technologies we need and the distribution of the costs has led to further delays. What is immediately striking is the enormous cost savings that can be achieved if countries work together. Previous economic analysis has shown the global benefits of collective action; what we do for the first time here is show that these benefits accrue to all countries, with costs more than an order of magnitude lower when there is global participation. Moreover, the report shows that an ambitious deal can be good for both economic growth and employment, with potentially up to 10 million additional new jobs created over the next ten years. Some may choose to quibble about the exact numbers in the analysis, while others may argue that the policy scenarios used are unrealistic. This misses the point. Our objective is not to prescribe the targets and timetables that should be adopted: that is the job of scientists and governments. Rather, the scenarios used in this report have been developed for purely illustrative purposes, to understand whether and how greater collaboration can bring down costs and increase economic benefits. However, the overall message is clear: even ignoring the costs of climate change itself, the world benefits economically from action to cut emissions. This is not to say that forging a global deal, and then implementing it, will be easy. But what we can say is that world leaders can have the confidence to know that reaching a successful conclusion in Copenhagen this December is both achievable and consistent with their measures to promote economic recovery. In fact, crafted right, an ambitious global deal can be a key part of this recovery. There is no reason to delay.
BREAKING THE CLIMATE DEADLOCK Cutting the Cost The Economic Benefits of Collaborative Climate Action