This blog post was originally published for TheClimateGroup on September 14, 2015.
In the sprint to the Paris climate negotiations, something very important is happening.
The conventional wisdom that addressing climate change will cost money, jobs and growth is being well and truly debunked. The coincident Climate Week NYC and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in New York City next week illustrates this in spades.
Consider the 17 new SDG goals and 169 targets, a global blueprint for human and economic progress in the coming 15 years. Individually and combined, they will promote more growth, dramatically reduce poverty and set the world on a path to solve climate change.
Just one example (and there are dozens of them): Policies to promote more human-centric cities will lead to more growth, save trillions of dollars and dramatically close the carbon gap.
Similarly, investments in landscape restoration will sharply increase agricultural yields, improve resilience and bring billions of tons of carbon back to earth. New initiatives to cut food waste in half will lead to better food security, more efficient investment and huge cuts in carbon emissions.
"Climate week NYC is the start of that final sprint to COP21." —Andrew Steer
Nowhere is this principle clearer than in the goal for universal access to sustainable, affordable energy.
Bringing electric power to the 1.4 billion people who currently don’t have it will be cheaper and more effective if supported by investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Those without electricity today spend the equivalent of US$30 billion annually on dangerous, polluting, inefficient kerosene lamps.
A recent report shows solar lighting could do the job for less than one-tenth that cost, freeing up US$27 billion for other purposes, including equitable, low-carbon economic development.
Some 360 million of these people live in India, where the scale of market opportunity in the off-grid renewable energy sector has vast potential. The market for solar home energy systems in India alone will be worth $215 million by 2018.
We all need to work together on these amazing win-win investments.
The intersection of climate action, sustainable economic development and clean energy is a place where long-term prosperity can grow.
Climate Week NYC and the Sustainable Development Goals summit at the United Nations sit right at that intersection.
Let’s build on this momentum to move to a brighter, more prosperous future for all.