Climate change is the greatest challenge that our planet faces. No one can be immune or can escape the consequences of a hurricane, a wildfire, or a drought because these type of events have a butterfly effect. When a natural disaster affects a city, its effect transcends to its neighbors. Therefore, governments and business leaders must collaborate to establish strategies to limit and end climate change. The environmental and economic benefits of fighting climate change are greater than the benefits of following the same old practices and ignore the risks of this climate phenomenon. That was the main point of the speech given by the Former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, President Felipe Calderón during the FSUN Summit “SDG Convergence: Investments and Partnerships for The Global Goals” at the UN ECOSOC Chamber on September 19, 2018.
President Calderón challenged what he refers to as the “False Dilemma” of promoting economic growth versus fighting climate change. He argued that “it is possible to have better economic growth and a better climate at the same time.” President Calderon insisted on the invalidity of the argument that fighting climate change is associated with high cost. He clarified that, in fact, taking action on climate change can generate more economic benefits for the private sector and for the economy.
President Calderón explained during his speech that taking an action on climate change and “doing the right thing” can generate benefit on many levels. In particular, we can:
- Avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution
- Raise USD 2.8 trillion in carbon price revenues and fossil fuel subsidy savings
- Achieve a higher global GDP growth
- Generate over 65 million additional low-carbon jobs
- Increase female employment and labour participation
President Calderón demonstrated that taking action on climate change can be beneficial to the economy through changes in three systems: cities, land use, and energy. President Calderón suggested that we can fulfill SDG #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities by making retrofitting buildings. He highlighted that 3.3 million new jobs can be created in the retrofitting industry alone. By following this suggestion, we can build sustainable cities and generate high profit.
Land use is the second system that needs to be changed in order to support and promote SDG #15: Life on Land. When governments and businesses implement strategies to stop deforestation and enhance agriculture, there is a better chance for economic prosperity and business revenues as well as environmental sustainability. Mr. Calderón gave examples of two countries who supported the agriculture industry and succeeded in making good economic revenue: Mexico and Uganda. In Mexico, there was an increase in revenue for farmers by 16% and cattle ranchers grew three times their cattle heads. In Uganda, tech improvements increased crop yields and decreased pesticide use. As a consequence, the profit for investment is $20 for each $1. Therefore, it is good for the environment and the economy.
The third system is energy. By altering our systems of producing energy, we can support and achieve SDG # 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. President Calderón underlined that solar energy is now “90% cheaper than in 2008.” He also explained that there is an increase in the use of domestic renewable energy systems that help reduce the cost of electricity bill for homeowners. In addition, the number of jobs that can be generated by the industries of clean energy is larger than the number of jobs in the fossil fuels industry. President Calderón presents statistics that indicate the availability of 476,000 jobs in the solar and wind power generation industry in the United States alone, while there are 151,000 jobs in the fossil fuels industries.
As the Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, President Calderón warned that the economic risk does not lie in taking actions on climate change, but rather in the decision of investing in old systems that result in stranded assets. He mentioned that most of the investments are divesting away from coal assets for example, so they will be stranded assets in the future.
The speech of Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate directed the focus of the business leaders attending the summit to the importance of their role in transforming the greatest challenge of our time into the greatest opportunity for the global economy. He encourages every business leader to make the right decision and start to take an action on climate change, to save the planet and ensure a prosper future for the next generations. President Calderón concluded his speech with the powerful call to action: “We can turn the greatest global challenge into the opportunity of a lifetime. Do well by doing good.”
Translation: English to Chinese