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Climate Change - A Window of Opportunity for the US

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Climate change threatens serious economic disruption to us all with serious implications to global stability and the impact it will have on the whole of humanity. The recent extreme floods in the UK and the violent storms here in the US have been warnings from the future if we do not act. So I applaud the President's bold action on climate change - the Climate Action Plan was a seminal moment in the global debate on climate change as we build momentum towards an international deal next year and it shows the World that the US, can and will act.

Securing a global future for the next generation is my overriding priority, where we can all enhance our economic development and live in a world that is not threatened by manmade global warming or at the very least managed. America is key to this, which is why I am meeting with leaders in the White House and State Department to discuss how we can best turn this momentum into a global climate change agreement in Paris next year.

Like in the UK, there are those who are sceptical of the science, but the President was right when he said that the science has clearly shown that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind and that will also result in serious economic consequences. The National Climate Assessment found that: "corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience."

There are also opportunities and true entrepreneurs should have their eyes wide open. We are in a global race and the global market for low carbon goods and services has been valued at over £3 trillion and is growing at about 4% a year. In the UK, renewable energy has generated £8bn of investment and will support up to 260,000 jobs by 2020, in the first quarter of this year renewable energy supplied 19.4 per cent of our energy needs. I urge the US to also embrace these opportunities and build on this emerging economy, because the threat is real.

My second priority is to provide long-term certainty for investors. The UK's 2008 climate law was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as providing a clear path to reach our climate change goals. It is why the US Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is so laudable and I'm glad to see it has received a positive response from some businesses and investors. Since 2010, we have mobilised £45 billion to be invested in the British energy market and in April supporting 250,000 jobs by 2020.

Last week, the bipartisan Risky Business report, gave a comprehensive economic analysis of the costs of inaction across key US regions and sectors. It presents a stark choice - accept the climate risks, or get on another path. The independent New Climate Economy study, to be published in September, will also explore the global economic opportunities for businesses and governments further--ones that both our countries cannot afford to miss.

The reality is that no country's actions alone will create the impact required to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius - we all need to be part of the solution.
China is also taking action domestically and looking like it will overachieve on its pledge to reduce the carbon intensity of their economy by 45% by 2020. On his visit to London in June, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the UK Prime Minister David Cameron issued a joint statement pledging to "redouble their efforts on climate change."

EU leaders, including the UK, Germany and France, have also set out a clear plan for agreeing to a 40% emissions reduction by 2030. These are just a few examples of growing global cooperation on these issues, many of which the US is playing a leading role in.

But we do not have time to spare - delaying action will cost the world and the US and UK economies more in the long run. As the Risky Business report shows, we need to create a sustainable economy, or we face a future of increasing resource scarcity, more extreme weather and continued environmental degradation.

We have an opportunity to fine tune our economies in order to deal with this threat and build a positive future for the next generations. Businesses and governments around the world need to embrace this opportunity and act on climate change. The US has shown it is willing to take ambitious action - together we need to make a global deal in 2015 a reality.

Ed Davey is the UK Energy and Climate Secretary

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