Climate change poses ‘profound threat’ to global growth, IMF chief says

FILE PHOTO: IMF and World Bank hold Annual Meetings in Washington

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Climate change poses a serious threat to global growth, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Monday, urging the world’s top emitters to agree on a floor for carbon prices.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told finance ministers meeting on climate change that countries should also ensure that green investments are included in the money they are spending to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its economic impact.

Doing so, she said, could boost global gross domestic product by 0.7% on average in the first 15 years of the recovery.

“Even while we are in the midst of the COVID crisis, we should mobilize to prevent the climate crisis,” Georgieva told a meeting of finance ministers from 52 countries working to integrate climate change into their economic policies.

The group, launched in April 2019 and led by the finance ministers of Chile and Finland, met virtually Monday on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank.

China and the United States, the world’s largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, are not part of the coalition. Together they account for 43% of the world’s emissions.

“The evidence is clear: Climate change is a profound threat to growth and prosperity. It is macro-critical. And macroeconomic policies are central to the fight against climate change,” she said.

Georgieva said IMF research showed that policy tools could help achieve net zero emissions by 2050 despite the pandemic, but it was imperative that countries earmarked some of the $12 trillion in fiscal stimulus toward green investments.

Carbon pricing should be at the heart of the strategy, she said, adding, “It is critical to get the implementation right, including to shield vulnerable people and sectors to ensure a just transition.”

Voicing concern that the current Paris framework would not deliver the needed 25% to 50% reduction of emissions over the next decade, Georgieva called on top emitters to adopt a carbon price floor, which could pave the way for a global consensus.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and Steve Orlofsky)