Lima climate negotiations: Turning burdens into opportunities

The UN climate talks ended with the adoption of a plan to mitigate global warming that would commit all countries to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Countries are invited to reveal their planned emission cuts so that a climate change deal can be agreed in Paris in twelve months time. Most of the discussions were about finding a fair way to share the costs of climate change mitigation. But what if these burdens were in reality economic and social opportunities and investments in the future of our societies? 
Oliver Loebel, Managing Director of PU Europe commented: “The EU has submitted ambitious carbon reduction targets to the world. Other major emitters should accept comparable emission cuts. However, we strongly believe the EU should go a step further and show the world that climate change mitigation can offer significant economic and social opportunities. Realising the cost-effective savings potentials of our societies and, in particular, those of our building stock would get us a long way towards meeting our climate targets while offering significant benefits.”
The International Energy Agency concluded in a recent report [1] that governments are still undervaluing the benefits of energy efficiency. Large-scale energy efficiency policies can boost growth ranging from 0.25 % to 1.1 % per year and create 8 to 27 job years per €1 million invested. Building efficiency initiatives can add €67-128 billion to the EU countries’ public budgets. Regarding health and well-being, benefits can boost returns to as much as four euros for every one euro invested. 
“We must turn burdens into opportunities. Making our buildings future-proof while creating jobs, generating government income and reducing healthcare costs is a worthwhile way to mitigate climate change. The EU must show the way,” Loebel concluded.
[1] IEA ‘Capturing the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency’ (2014): to the executive summary here