The world of finance must line up behind the fight against global warming, a top British climate change official said, calling for a concerted effort to turn “billions into trillions” of dollars driving the transition to a green economy.
From state aid agencies and international development banks to insurers and pension funds, tackling climate change can be a growth opportunity, said Alok Sharma, Britain’s newly appointed business minister in charge of the COP26 UN climate summit.
The conference, to be held in Glasgow in November, is seen as critical to the success of the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which governments committed to cut their planet-heating emissions to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times.
“We need to unleash the finance which will make all of this possible and power the shift to a zero-carbon economy,” Sharma told a briefing at the United Nations on Friday.
“From solar panels to electric vehicles to tree planting, it is often finance that turns good intentions into actions.”
Sharma cited an estimate by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that nearly $7 trillion a year will be needed over the next decade to meet the Paris accord and the UN’s ambitious slate of goals to solve poverty, inequality, climate change and other global ills by 2030.
From solar panels to electric vehicles to tree planting, it is often finance that turns good intentions into actions.
Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, United Kingdom
Wealthy nations must honour their pledge to raise an annual $100 billion in climate finance, from public and private sources, to help poorer countries adapt to a warmer world and pursue low-carbon development, he said.
“But to move from billions to trillions, we will need all finance to align with the Paris Agreement,” he said.
“We have the opportunity to turn climate change into a growth opportunity for the global economy,” he added.
Failure to act would lead to worsening droughts, heatwaves and crop failures, rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes, he warned.
“These events will put human life at risk. Lead to population displacement,” he added. “It will devastate nature and biodiversity. And exact a catastrophic economic cost.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the briefing: “We are in an unfolding climate emergency… We have a huge task ahead of us.”
This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate.