Africa: Climate Action and Economic Growth


Climate demonstration (file photo)


Editor’s Note

It is still conventional wisdom to pit action to curb climate change against economic growth. But the evidence is rapidly accumulating that this is a false dilemma, buttressed by vested interests in the fossil fuel industry and a simplistic concept of economic growth.

According to a report just released by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, falling prices for renewable energy and careful analysis of both costs and benefits of low-carbon vs. high-carbon investment strategies point to a clear conclusion: saving the planet and saving the economy go hand in hand.

Despite urgent calls from demonstrators around the world, from scientists and more and more influential policy makers, the debate will no doubt continue. It will take strong political pressure, at multiple levels, as well as analyses like these, to lead to significant policy change. Measuring costs and benefits depends on what is counted, on the time frame for analysis, as well as on the level of public pressure and divestment from fossil fuel companies.

There are still enormous short-term profits in fossil fuel production, and “fossil-fuel denialism” still holds sway in policy circles. But it is becoming harder and harder to deny that the long-term economic logic as well as the urgent imperative to stop global warming favors their obsolescence.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the preface and executive summary of the report. The full report is available at

Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, just released last week, presents a powerful challenge to business as usual, linking the failure to act on the climate to basic flaws in the logic of market-fundamentalist capitalism ( She also argues that the threat of climate change can provide a catalyst to bring together movements challenging this system. (For one review, visit; for excerpts from the book:

Another important report just released by the Bretton Woods Project shows that key multilateral development banks say urgent action is needed to tackle climate change but continue to invest billions of dollars in oil, gas and coal projects. / direct URL

Andrew Breiner, “,” ThinkProgress, Sept. 17, 2014

For talking points and previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Climate Change and the Environment, visit

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The New Climate Economy


All over the world, people want to achieve better lives for themselves and for their children. Governments want to secure economic growth, improve living standards, create jobs and reduce poverty. Businesses want to expand and become more profitable.

Today we also know that the world must deal with the challenge of climate change.

Can these aspirations all be met at the same time? Is it possible to tackle long-term climate change while also, now, promoting economic growth and development? Or must we choose between our future security and our current living standards?

It was to provide an objective, independent examination of these questions that the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate was established in 2013 by a group of seven countries.

Our report is addressed to economic decision-makers across the world in both public and private sectors. Its core conclusion is that, by shaping the major processes of structural and technological change now occurring in the global economy, we can create lasting economic growth while also tackling the immense risks of climate change.

Their diverse perspectives on the economics of growth, development and structural transformation, public policy, risk and economic history have guided the project’s intellectual approach.

We are extremely grateful to the governments of Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom for their vision and support. They have given us freedom in conducting our work, and the findings and recommendations in this report are entirely independent of them.

The Commission is made up of 24 former heads of government and finance ministers, and leaders of businesses, cities, international organisations, and research institutions. Their wealth of experience gives confidence that our research has been grounded in reality, and that the recommendations of this report can be implemented.

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