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The next 5 to 15 years are a crucial time for the world as it determines the outcome of the world’s economy and climate change. According to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate report released on September 16th 2014, the coming decade and a half could be an era of great progress and growth but such a positive future is not guaranteed unless necessary measures are taken to balance economic growth with reduced climate change.
The report entitled ‘The New Climate Economy’ is based on a project that was set up to help stakeholders such as governments, the private business sector as well as societies as a whole, make decisions based on accurate and up to date information on how to achieve economic growth and have financial gains while also addressing climate change.
This programme of work was commissioned in 2013 by the governments of seven countries: Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
According to the study carried out by the Commission, many low-income countries no longer know if they will be able to replicate the successes of middle-income countries. There are persisting challenges that are contributing significantly to low-income countries lagging behind. Among these challenges are extreme poverty, low employment levels, and poor health and education.
It also states that emerging economies also fear getting stuck in an outdated model of economic development. According to research, on over 100 countries labeled “middle-income” half a century ago, only 13 have since achieved high-income status.
The report says that there are unprecedented risks posed by climate change and the strong growth of the global economy before the financial crisis in 2008 was accompanied by a marked surge in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Most of this came from the growing use of fossil fuels, along with other sources including agriculture, deforestation and industry. And if current emission trends continue unchecked, the resulting increase in average global temperatures could exceed 4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. This estimate is more than double the 2°C rise that world leaders have set as a limit to avoid the most dangerous climate impacts.
There are many risks associated with global warming including an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, severe pressures on water resources, reductions in agricultural yields in key food-producing regions as well as losses of ecosystems and species.
Studies in countries like China, Ethiopia and India show that there are several opportunities to achieve strong economic performance while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Curbing and reversing land degradation needs to be a priority in some countries, says the report. It states that about one-quarter of agricultural land in the world is currently severely degraded. Case studies in countries like Ethiopia, Mexico, Uganda, Rwanda and others indicates that, land degradation decreased productivity by 3 to 7 percent per year.
Over the next 15 years, about USD 90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure in cities across the world, agriculture and energy systems. This, says the report, is an opportunity to drive investment in low-carbon growth, bringing multiple benefits including jobs, health, business productivity and quality of life.
To achieve this growth, the report suggests that governments and businesses need to improve resource efficiency, invest in good-quality infrastructure, and stimulate technological and business innovation.