Washington, D.C. — Ahead of the Major Economies Forum, or MEF, in Paris this Friday, the Center for American Progress released an analysis today highlighting four cost-effective strategies that world leaders can utilize to drive sustainable and low-carbon economic growth and lay the groundwork for a strong global climate deal in 2015.
Countries around the world are currently set to achieve less than half of the carbon-pollution reductions needed by 2020 to prevent catastrophic climate change. Fortunately, with smart policies—such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon-pollution standards—and existing technologies, leaders can put the world on track for low-carbon economic growth and safeguard the climate for future generations.
“The science has never been clearer. Countries must take action now to reduce heat-trapping pollution over the next decades; only then can they avoid the crushing costs of more severe floods, droughts, sea-level rise, and other extreme weather events driven by steadily rising global temperatures,” said Cathleen Kelly, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “It is crucial that world leaders embrace cost-effective actions that will drive low-carbon economic growth and build momentum for an ambitious international climate agreement.”
CAP’s analysis proposes that world leaders commit to the following four actions:
Improve building energy efficiency. Energy efficiency drives economic growth while lowering energy bills, pollution, health care costs, and the need for costly investments in new power plants. Solidifying strong energy-efficiency goals for buildings at the July and September MEF meetings prepares MEF country leaders to announce these goals at the September Climate Leaders Summit and to recruit other leaders for similar commitments.
Make climate change the focus of the Arctic Council. The Arctic is warming two times faster than any other region on earth, and the effects of Arctic climate change will be felt around the world. At the Climate Leaders Summit, President Obama and the leaders of the seven other Arctic Council nations should commit to focusing the 2015–2017 Arctic Council agenda on climate change.
Reduce global poverty through climate action. Climate change jeopardizes economic progress and threatens to undo decades of successful poverty alleviation efforts around the globe, but well-designed actions to cut carbon pollution and build resilience can support sustainable economic growth and fight poverty in meaningful and measurable ways. By committing to making climate change part of the post-2015 development agenda, world leaders would support climate-smart development through 2030 and advance the summit’s goals of accelerating cities’ climate action, building community resilience, and reducing disaster risks.
Phase down heat-trapping HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are hundreds to tens of thousands of times more potent than carbon pollution as drivers of global warming, and phasing them down will support innovation and efficiency improvements while buying countries time to reduce carbon pollution. The United States should accelerate diplomatic outreach to India in order to reinvigorate action to phase down HFCs.
By committing to these four goals, leaders can help boost the economy and deliver a strong 2015 global climate agreement that will ensure a healthy, safe planet for future generations.