The Big Picture

The Opportunity of Our Time

As we learn and develop new climate ventures, we’ll also be learning about these new sectors of the economy and how things are changing. We can use inspiration from the things we learn about the opportunity of our time to develop new climate ventures.

The Big Picture

According to the Global Commission on Climate Adaptation, an investment in five key areas of $1.8 trillion could generate $7.1 trillion in total benefits over the 2020-2030 time period. The five areas include: early warning systems, climate resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture crop production, global mangrove protection, and investments in making water resources more resilient.

According to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate:

We are on the cusp of a new economic era: one where growth is driven by the interaction between rapid technological innovation, sustainable infrastructure investment, and increased resource productivity. This is the only growth story of the 21st century. It will result in efficient, liveable cities; low-carbon, smart and resilient infrastructure; and the restoration of degraded lands while protecting valuable forests. We can have growth that is strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive. 

They calculate direct economic gains of $26 trillion through 2030 compared to the business as usual scenario, including 65 million new low-carbon jobs. And they remind us that we can avoid 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution in the business as usual scenario, and prepare against the billions in financial loss due to weather and climate related hazards.

This transition has to be managed well, prioritizing especially the most vulnerable populations who have done the least to cause climate change and are feeling the effects the hardest. The tides of our take-make-waste fossil-fuel powered economy are turning, according to the World Resources Institute:

But as the global transition to a new climate economy progresses, the political and policy grip of those with vested interests in the old economy, such as the fossil fuel sector, will wane. They will increasingly be counterbalanced by voices from the new climate economy — solar companies and consumer goods companies committed to  deforestation-free supply chains, for example.

Central to this rising chorus are the youth and voting public demanding action. People around the world are also crying out for more equal access to decently paid jobs, for health care and education, and for a better future for their children.

The world now stands at a crossroads. We can, and must, deliver both ambitious climate action and better lives for people. And there is no viable alternative: growth and development benefits will only be sustainable if we tackle climate change, and ambitious climate action is only possible if it delivers benefits for people. We must take the leap and, with people firmly at the center, accelerate the transition to the inclusive and sustainable growth story of the 21st century. 

At this point in the transformation of our economy, there is no limit to the potential for new productivity, creativity and opportunity for individuals. Many entrenched areas can be expanded, and many new sectors are emerging. Consider a few of these sectors in the “Ideas” section.