A major new study found that taking bold climate action could lead to $26 trillion in economic benefits worldwide through 2030. And the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate report makes it clear that women can drive this boon to keep the planet from going haywire.
Women and children are more than 14 times more likely to die in disasters spurred by climate change, according to U.N. data. This vulnerability often stems from poverty (women make up a majority of the world’s poor), the fact that women around the globe tend to rely more heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods, and societal gender roles that limit women.
“Women’s equality should be a goal in its own right,” says Molly McGreggor, one of the lead authors of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate report. But the report highlighted ways to boost gender equity while also fighting climate change:
- Put women to work on fixing the planet. Working to make energy, cities, industry, and food, water, and land use more sustainable and resilient can increase female employment and labor participation. The report estimates that taking such action could generate 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030. That’s as big as the entire workforces of the U.K. and Egypt combined. Renewable energy hires a larger proportion of women compared to the energy sector overall, 35 percent compared to 25 percent respectively (there’s clearly still a lot of work to do to close that gender gap). On top of that, women’s full participation in the economy could raise the global GDP by $28 trillion each year by 2025. That’s a lot of green!
- Enable women on the frontlines to chart a new path. More than half of the world’s women who work in the formal economy work in agriculture. Women are often the primary providers of water, food, and energy for their families. So if we want to revolutionize the way we use our resources, grow our food, and make our energy, women are already set up to take the lead.
- Put women in power. When women play a bigger role in politics, governments are more likely to set aside protected land and ratify international environmental treaties. It turns out that disrupting the patriarchy is a win for Mother Earth, too.
“It’s sort of exciting and overwhelming, just how much opportunities there are for women,” McGregor says.
The Global Commission is made up of 28 former heads of state and was commissioned by several governments in 2013 to help advise countries on to best fold climate change action into economic development. Three commissioners, including former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, are delivering the report to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres today.