A Global Deal for our Low Carbon Future

Reading time: 8 minutes
27 June 2008

This report is aimed at accelerating political momentum for a global climate deal.

It represents the first phase of the broader 'Breaking the Climate Deadlock' initiative launched by Tony Blair and The Climate Group.

  • The challenge is immense

    There is now virtually overwhelming evidence about climate change and its consequences; there remain uncertainties, but the risks of negative and irreversible consequences are clearly high.

  • The challenge can be met

    We can meet approximately 70% of the abatement required over the next two decades with existing or near-commercial technologies.

    Energy efficiency alone could cut energy demand by 20-22% and save hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

    There are low-carbon energy sources already in large scale use today that can be expanded, e.g., wind, nuclear, and solar.

  • The challenge can be met without damaging the economy

    Various estimates indicate that abatement will have an impact on the economy, but both the IPCC and the Stern Review have found that it is likely to be relatively low - significantly less, for example, than the recent oil price rise.

    Costs would likely be financed by private sector and government borrowing over time, and are modest compared to normal capital replacement cycles; thus the actual impact on GDP growth in a given year is likely to be minimal or even positive.

    There will be major investments, creating jobs and business opportunities, in the move to a new low-carbon economy. For example, over 2 million people are today employed in renewable energy; investment in new environmental technologies rose from $10 billion to $66 billion from 1998 to 2007.

  • Addressing climate change leads to energy security

    Around 50% of potential abatement actions - energy efficiency, renewables, biofuels, nuclear - result in increased energy security. Other abatement actions are mostly energy security neutral and less than 3% of potential abatement runs counter to energy security.

    Pursuing energy security without consideration for climate could, however, lead to negative climate effects; notably from increased use of coal and energy-intensive sources of oil such as tar sands.

  • Adaptation will be a necessity, not a choice

    Climate change is already occurring and will continue to occur even with strong action.

    Over a billion people live in coastal regions prone to flooding, and will likely be affected even if radical action is taken.

    Droughts, shifting agricultural patterns, greater storm intensity, and spread of disease areas are all effects that will need to be addressed - particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable nations.

    Insurance will become a major issue, to provide effective safety nets through local insurance and global reinsurance systems. New forms of micro-insurance will be needed for low-income families.

  • Waiting is risky and expensive

    The science has become more, not less, alarming on the dangers of climate change as time has passed.

    The longer we wait, the more expensive the reduction will be, the more painful and abrupt the economic transformation, and the more we will be required to spend on adaptation. Recent US reports have shown that delaying the start of emissions reductions from 2010 to 2020 will almost double the annual rate of reductions required.

    Deforestation has to be reversed - otherwise we will deplete carbon sinks irreversibly, requiring us to take more expensive actions elsewhere.

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