TODAY’S STUDY: Building To Beat Climate Change
The Sustainable Infrastructure Imperative: Financing For Better Growth And Development
Ocober 2016 (The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate)
Investing in sustainable infrastructure is key to tackling the three central challenges facing the global community: reigniting growth, delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, and reducing climate risk in line with the Paris Agreement.
A comprehensive definition of infrastructure includes both traditional types of infrastructure (everything from energy to public transport, buildings, water supply and sanitation) and, critically, also natural infrastructure (such as forest landscapes, wetlands and watershed protection).
Significant investment is needed over the next 15 years: around US$90 trillion, which is more than the entire current stock. These demands are driven by ageing infrastructure in advanced economies and higher growth and structural change in emerging market and developing countries, especially rapid urbanization.
The global South will account for roughly twothirds of global infrastructure investment (or about US$4 trillion per year). This new infrastructure offers a great opportunity to “leapfrog” the inefficient, sprawling and polluting systems of the past.
Transformative change is needed now in how we build our cities, produce and use energy, transport people and goods, and manage our landscapes.
The challenge is urgent. The window for making the right choices is uncomfortably narrow because of lock-in of capital and technology and because of a shrinking carbon budget. The next 2-3 years will be crucial in bringing about a fundamental change of direction. We can build cities where we can move, breathe and be productive, we can foster ecosystems that are robust and resilient, and we can avoid the potential displacement of millions of people.
We have a historic opportunity to deliver inclusive economic growth, eliminate poverty and reduce the risk of climate change. Now is an opportune time to act because of record low interest rates, large available pools of finance and rapid technological change.
More money alone won’t do the job. A range of barriers must be tackled to raise the quantity and the quality of infrastructure investment. Concerted action in four inter-linked areas can together help us overcome these barriers and build the sustainable infrastructure of the 21st century:
1. We must collectively tackle fundamental price distortions – including subsidies and lack of appropriate pricing especially for fossil fuels and carbon – to improve incentives for investment and innovation, to drastically reduce pollution and congestion, and to generate revenue that can be redirected, for instance, to support poor people.
2. We must strengthen policy frameworks and institutional capacities to deliver the right policies and enabling conditions for investment, to build pipelines of viable and sustainable projects, to reduce high development and transaction costs, and to attract private investment.
3. We must transform the financial system to deliver the scale and quality of investment needed in order to augment financing from all sources (especially private sources such as long-term debt finance and the large pools of institutional investor capital), reduce the cost of capital, enable catalytic finance from development finance institutions (DFIs), and accelerate the greening of the financial system.
4. We must ramp up investments in clean technology R&D and deployment to reduce the costs and enhance the accessibility of more sustainable technologies.
Multilateral and other DFIs can support countries and catalyse a virtuous circle of action on sustainable infrastructure. Public investments continue to be essential. Private finance will need to significantly scale up to meet our infrastructure requirements.
The Global Commission has identified a number of priority actions to rapidly shift investments toward sustainable infrastructure. A number of their previous recommendations are also relevant to this agenda.
To Achieve This, The Global Commission Calls On:
* Governments to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs and incentives for urban sprawl.
* Governments, including through the G20, to set a deadline for fossil fuel subsidy phase-out of 2025 at the latest. Government to introduce strong, predictable carbon prices as part of good fiscal reform; with all developed and emerging economies, and others where possible, committing to introducing or strengthening carbon pricing by 2020.
*All countries to develop transition plans to accelerate a scale-up of clean and resilient energy solutions and a phase-out of coal, in a way that delivers fully on energy access goals and facilitates a just transition for workers.
*The G20 and other countries to adopt key principles ensuring the integration of climate risk and climate objectives in national infrastructure policies and plans; these principles should be included in the G20 global infrastructure initiative, as well as used to guide the investment strategies of public and private finance institutions, particularly multilateral and national development banks.
*Cities to commit to developing and implementing low-carbon urban development strategies by 2020, prioritising policies and investments in public, non-motorised and low-emission transport, building e¬ciency, renewable energy and e¬cient waste management.
*Multilateral and other DFIs – via their shareholders – to enable the doubling of their investments in financing sustainable infrastructure as quickly as is feasible, and scale up further as warranted.
*Governments and investors to agree on common standards for and scale up green bonds as an instrument to enhance liquidity in financial markets and unlock capital for investment.
*Countries, especially those in the G20, to build on the Task Force on Climaterelated Financial Disclosures’ work to move toward appropriate mandatory disclosure standards as a matter of corporate governance.
*Governments, multilateral and bilateral finance institutions, the private sector and willing investors to work together to scale up sustainable land use financing, for halting deforestation and putting degraded farmlands and forests into restoration.
*Governments and the private sector to scale up innovation in key low-carbon and climateresilient technologies, tripling public investment in clean energy R&D and removing barriers to entrepreneurship and creativity.
*Governments and businesses to substantially increase investments in R&D and deployment, and calls on governments to develop genuine research partnerships, across countries and with the private sector.
Investing in sustainable infrastructure is key to tackling three simultaneous challenges: reigniting global growth, delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and reducing climate risk. Following the milestone achievements of 2015 – including the ambitious global goals set for sustainable development and its financing in Addis Ababa and New York, and through a landmark international agreement on climate action in Paris – the challenge is to now to shift urgently from rhetoric into action.
Infrastructure underpins core economic activity and is an essential foundation for achieving inclusive sustainable growth. It is indispensable for development and poverty elimination, as it enhances access to basic services, education and work opportunities, and can boost human capital and quality of life. It has a profound impact on climate goals, with the existing stock and use of infrastructure associated with more than 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Climate-smart, resilient infrastructure will be crucial for the world to adapt to the climate impacts that are already lockedin – in particular, to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people. Ensuring infrastructure is built to deliver sustainability is the only way to meet the global goals outlined above, and to guarantee longterm, inclusive and resilient growth…
…The four actions outlined here together set out the beginnings of a roadmap for financing sustainable infrastructure in the new climate economy.
A number of the Recommendations of the Global Commission on Economy and Climate agreed in 2014 and 2015 are still relevant today and essential to this agenda. In addition, as indicated above, the Global Commission has identified a number of further priority actions that can help to rapidly shift investments toward sustainable infrastructure.
Ramping up investment in sustainable infrastructure is the growth story of the future. The Global Commission finds that investing in sustainable infrastructure can boost growth and global demand in the short term, a priority for today’s economic and financial decision-makers. Over the medium term, it can spur innovation, creativity and efficiency of energy, mobility and logistics. It can help to lay the foundation for sustainable industrialisation. And it underpins the only sustainable, long-term growth path on offer, bringing with it a means to increase living standards, promote inclusion and reduce poverty. While the challenges and opportunities vary in different parts of the world, investing in sustainable infrastructure is in the collective global interest as well as in the self-interest of individual countries, whatever their stage of development.
If we act now and act together to finance sustainable infrastructure, better growth, better development, and a better climate are within our reach.