THE BLOG
09/16/2014 08:37 am ET Updated Nov 16, 2014

A New Climate Economy Gives Hope to Millions of Workers

8 billion people will share the planet by 2030.

These people are our family, our friends, our workmates and our neighbors. These people all depend on a healthy planet, a decent job and a secure income.

These are people like us.

Historically leaders have gone to war to get access to land and resources on which people depend. Today even peaceful opportunities appear elusive as we battle to protect our planet and the well being of our people.

A battle that could save the planet from the ravages of climate change, tackle stagnating growth and contribute to addressing historic levels of unemployment and unacceptable economic and social exclusion.

If we could turn our collective thought and action to the challenge of decarbonizing our world we could, in the process, renew degraded land, invest in vital infrastructure, create jobs, develop massive urban slums into sustainable communities and offer future generations hope.

We could create opportunities for all people out of chaos.

Where do political, business and community leaders start?

They could start with the new climate economy report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, Better Growth, Better Climate.

When two dozen leaders from diverse constituencies set aside difference, look at evidence and share a commitment to a sustainable future that dares us to achieve the possible, there is indeed hope.

The science is unequivocal and the economics is unmistakable.

Economic growth, jobs and action on climate change can now be achieved together. At a time when many countries are struggling economically, the New Climate Economy report presents compelling new evidence that tackling climate change can generate better economic growth.

The numbers don't lie.

We all agree that major structural and technological changes in the global economy make it possible to achieve lower-carbon development and better economic growth. Technology and innovation -- in clean energy, information technology, liveable cities, land use and industry are driving new opportunities for low-carbon growth.

Together we can create jobs, expand profits and build dynamic sustainable cities for us to live in.

Between now and 2030, around 90 trillion dollars globally will be invested in cities, land use and energy infrastructure, key sectors of the global economy generating millions of jobs.

The investment choices we make will shape future growth and will lock-in either a low or a high carbon pathway. Now is the moment for those big decisions.

The New Climate Economic report unequivocally underlines that transition to a low-carbon economy can improve the quality of economic growth. We can bring net economic benefits to countries at all levels of income, including new jobs, cleaner air, better health, lower poverty and more energy security.

The message is simple -- we can afford to tackle climate change and there is capital available to do so. Low-carbon infrastructure investments will bring multiple economic benefits and can pay for themselves in lower operating costs.

Working people and their unions understand that transition is challenging and we are determined to leave no one behind. Just as there are opportunities there must be assurances and commitments to a just transition for workers and their communities.

We've all read the words of the inevitable: melting icecaps, rising temperatures. Now it's time to listen to the voice of the possible as economic and political and community leaders set out a plan for an economic future that could achieve up to 90% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The challenge is action within and across nations to reshape the real economy nationally and globally.

This challenge can be met, starting with the UN Climate Summit in New York next week, and facilitated by an ambitious international agreement in Paris in 2015.

Business, unions, communities must act together, in the new climate economy.

Sharan Burrow is a member of the Global commission on Climate and the Economy.