Just over a year ago on a warm August afternoon, I paid a call on the Environment Minister, Lena Ek. She had an idea she wanted to share with the UK about the campaign for action on climate change.
Twelve months on, that idea has been launched as a major international effort in New York, just as the UN’s Climate Change panel (IPCC) has underlined the scale of the challenge with its fifth assessment report, published last week in Stockholm.
Lena Ek’s idea was an new assessment of the economic costs and benefits of tackling climate change, not least to show how decarbonisation of our economies could bring opportunities for business as well as costs.
The UK was positive to the idea and Sweden and we have now teamed up with Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, South Korea and Norway.
The New Climate Economy is the flagship project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and will bring together a group of the world’s leading economists, policy and business experts to analyse and share the economic opportunities and risks that arise from climate change.
The project aims to give new, independent and expert insights on the debates around ‘green growth’. Its starting point will not be climate change policy, but economic growth and development and the key economic priorities of governments, cities, businesses and investors.
We do not know what the final report will say. And indeed that’s the point. This will be an independent analysis of the evidence without pre-conceived views or conclusions.
The basis for its research programme will be the continuing need for growth and development in the world today. It will focus on poverty reduction and job creation and the achievement of wider development priorities, including food security, energy access, urban planning, sustainable land use, natural resource efficiency, and cleaner air and water.
By consulting directly with, for example, finance ministries, business leaders, city mayors and major investors, the experts will analyse how the economic decisions affecting climate change are made. The findings will be used to show how policy and investments can take climate risks and opportunities into account in a better way.
The report, to be published in September 2014, will make recommendations to governments and the private sector on how to achieve lower-carbon economic growth and development.
The New Climate Economy project aims to drive economic action and to inform global economic debate in the run-up to the UN Secretary General’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change in 2014, and the International Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015.