Davos 2013: Report warns $5 trillion investment must be ‘greened’

Meeting the climate change challenge requires the “greening” of $5tn of infrastructure investment every year, former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon has warned.

Writing in the first report of the World Economic Forum’s Green Growth Action Alliance (GGAA), Calderon warns that continuing today’s investment patterns would mean missing climate change targets and compromising sustainable development.

“Delivering such inclusive development in a sustainable way, however, requires that we remain within the boundaries of what our planet can safely deliver,” writes Calderon.

“Economic growth and sustainability are inter-dependent, you cannot have one without the other, and greening investment is the pre-requisite to realizing both goals.

With infrastructure investment for sectors such as agriculture, transport, energy and water at about $5tn a year till 2020, the scale of the required changes are huge.

The report cites the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy as one of the largest shifts required together with a transport revolution.

Felipe Calderon passed ambitious climate change legislation during his time in office. (Source: Flickr/World Economic Forum)

“This ‘business-as-usual’ investment will not lead to a stable future, however, unless it achieves environmental and sustainability goal,” said Calderon, who oversaw the creation of the GGAA when Mexico hosted the G20 meeting in 2012.

This development needs to be greened by re-evaluating investment priorities, building capacity, investment-grade policies and improving governance, among other activities.”

While in office, President Calderon passed ambitious climate change legislation including strict vehicle efficiency standards, that were recently relaxed following pressure from car manufacturers. the country is also investing heavily in public transport.

The report also calls for $700bn of additional investment in order to avoid the 2°C level of dangerous warming with renewables, forestry, energy efficiency and sustainable transport the recommended beneficiaries.

This figure is far beyond the annual $100bn goal by 2020, set by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which will become the main UN finance vehicle once it is operational.

According to the report, produced by consultancy Accenture, only around a fifth ($132bn) of the $700bn would need to be public money in order to stimulate this investment.

“Greening the economy is the only way to accommodate 9 billion people by 2050,” said Thomas Kerr, director of Climate Change Initiatives at the World Economic Forum.

“There are many successful cases where governments have strategically targeted their public funds to mobilize significant sums of private investment for green infrastructure. It’s time to scale up these proven solutions.”

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland runs from January 23-27.

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