Felipe Calderón: Tackling climate change doesn’t mean sacrificing economic growth

Ilario D'Amato
2 December 2015

Felipe Calderón, Chairman of Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

PARIS: We need to better showcase the economic case for climate action, says Felipe Calderónformer President of México and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, in The Climate Group’s latest exclusive Climate TV interview, released during the global COP21 climate talks in Paris.

“It is not anymore a question of lack of evidence about how climate change is human caused,” Felipe Calderón says. “Today, it is important to provide any decision-taker in government or in the business sector with evidence that tackling climate change doesn’t imply sacrificing economic growth.”

Such evidence is prominent in the New Climate Economy report Better Growth, Better Climate, which was published last year a few days before Climate Week NYC, as well as more recently with 10 ways to drive a low carbon future. “We can create jobs, we can have poverty alleviation, but at the same time, tackle climate change,” says Felipe Calderón. “And this report shows that it is possible, and we can get several drivers of economic growth doing the right things in order to reduce the climate risk.”

However, governments must raise the level of climate ambition and support the change business world is asking for. “There are several things that the governments can do in order to establish the right economic incentives to foster the transition to a low carbon economy,” continues Felipe Calderón. “If I need to choose one, that could be measures in order to establish carbon price – either tax on carbon or a cap-and-trade system.

“These kind of measures must be taken regardless of the revenues for the governments, which actually are good. In fact, they provide the economic incentives for any company to reduce carbon emissions, to save energy, even in their self-interest. Another measure that governments can take is to remove fossil fuel subsides: it is absurd that we are paying for polluting.”

The message for policymakers is then: “Take action, take decisions now. What is damaging the business environment is not the possibility that new measures regarding tackling climate change are coming, but the uncertainty that governments have not decided yet to take action. And this ‘flip-flop’ attitude is hurting decisions and investment in the private sector. The message that is coming from the business sector is decide right now, in the right direction.”

The climate talks in Paris can be a great opportunity to spur this shift. But apart from putting a price on carbon and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, it is important to “establish clear and long-term policies that could provide certainty for anyone to invest – that could be built between public and private sector.

“At the same time, to invest much more in research and development – investing public funds in that – and improve technology. The New Climate Economy is providing evidence to anyone in the sense that it is feasible, it is possible to have economic growth and at the same time tackle climate change.”

Felipe Calderón, Chairman of Global Commission on the Economy and Climate at CWNYC 2015

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