That’s the takeaway from a new report released Wednesday by New Climate Economy, a group commissioned by Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the U.K. to study economic growth and climate change. The group says that investing in infrastructure could help bring down the cost of clean energy by as much as 30 percent.
The world invested a record $329 billion in renewable energy last year, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. But the nonprofit sustainability advocacy group Ceres says we need $1 trillion in new investments each year — along with shifting trillions we already spend on dirty energy to renewables — to avoid the irreversible effects of climate change.
The needed funds already exist, Helen Mountford, the program director for New Climate Economy, told The Huffington Post. The problem is that too much of it is going to fossil fuels. The world already spends about $500 billion a year subsidizing fossil fuels, along with almost $6 trillion annually on dirty energy infrastructure, according to the International Energy Agency.
One way to shift that money toward better forms of energy is to get institutions like the World Bank to invest in renewable energy infrastructure, the New Climate Economy report found.
Renewable energy is already just as cheap as fossil fuels in many places in the world, even before health and environmental costs are taken into account. But the costs associated with renewables are higher upfront. For example, solar panels are expensive to install, but once they’re there, they passively produce energy without much additional money needed.