Climate action may add no costs and it is good for the economy

In decades of public debate about global warming, one assumption has been accepted by virtually all factions: that tackling it would necessarily be costly. But a new report published by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate doubt on that idea.

A global commission will announce its finding on Tuesday that an ambitious series of measures to limit emissions would cost $4 trillion or so over the next 15 years, an increase of roughly 5 percent over the amount that would likely be spent anyway on new power plants, transit systems and other infrastructure.

While the commission found that the requisite steps may make economic sense, that does not mean they will be politically easy, the report says. For instance, the group will recommend that countries eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, which cost about $600 billion a year but are vigorously defended by vested interests.

It will urge nations to take a fresh look at the potential of renewable energy, whose costs are plummeting, and also recommend the adoption of initiatives to halt destruction of forests, use land more efficiently and limit wasteful urban sprawl, among many other steps.

Overall, switching from fossil fuels to low carbon power could save $1.8 trillion between 2015 and 2035, the report says.

If global emissions keep growing at current rates they will reach 68 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2030, the report says. Implementing the report’s recommendations could prevent up to 24 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted.