Financing the Green Economy

According to new estimates that will be presented at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, $100 trillion is needed by 2030 to finance infrastructure needs worldwide. Failure to green this investment will reduce economic growth, increase systemic risk, deepen inequality, and fuel social unrest.

BEIJING – According to new estimates that will be presented at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, $100 trillion is needed by 2030 to finance infrastructure needs worldwide. This investment needs to be greened – its design and use must rely on less carbon and fewer natural resources – if we are to avoid an unsustainable increase in global temperatures of four degrees Celsius or more in the coming decades.

At least in the short term, green investment costs more than business-as-usual investment – about $700 million a year worldwide, according to the G-20-inspired Green Growth Action Alliance, chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Additional outlays of $140 billion annually are required just to green the estimated $15 trillion investment in energy generation needed by 2020.

These incremental costs are insignificant compared to the economic and other damage – including, for example, rising and volatile commodity and food prices – implied by unrestrained climate change. But someone still needs to put up the extra money.

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