Global revenue at firms providing climate change-related products and
services grew by a record 75 per cent during 2008 to $530bn (£324bn), making the
fast-growing sector larger than the aerospace and defence industries.
That is the conclusion of HSBC’s annual review of its climate change indices,
which assess the financial performance of firms that provide goods and services
designed to cut carbon emissions or support climate adaptation measures.
The report found that climate change-related revenue at listed firms has
already exceeded the $500bn a year that economist Lord Stern predicted would be
generated by the sector in 2050, while the number of people employed in
climate-related activities globally has doubled since 2004 to more than 2.4
According to the report, there is now “compelling data” to indicate that
climate change-related products and services represent a rapidly growing
component of the global economy and little evidence that the sector’s rapid
growth will be damaged by the worldwide recession.
The report states that “despite concerns that the global economic turmoil may
have dampened business and government support for addressing climate change, and
tighter credit markets have undoubtedly played their part in slowing financing
for renewable energy projects, there is strong evidence that governments have
remained committed while policy makers have continued to favour strong and
rising climate components as part of their fiscal plans”.
It predicts that if governments continue to make good on pledges to
accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and businesses maintain
investments in climate change-related products and services, the sector can
expect to be worth more than $2 trillion a year by 2020.
The report also argues that advocates of the low-carbon economy have
categorically won the argument that addressing climate change can deliver
substantial commercial benefits for those companies that are first to develop
more environmentally sustainable business models.
“Our analysis shows that companies and industries around the globe are taking
action not only to reduce their impact on the climate, but also to deliver
goods, products and services that address the issues of a changing climate,”
the report states. “We expect this momentum to continue as more companies
recognise that climate change and economic prosperity are not competing, but
closely aligned issues.”
In addition, the report highlights the emergence of powerful clean technology
hubs, noting that climate-related revenue was worth more than $100bn to the US
and Japanese economies last year, while France and Germany each saw their listed
firms generate more than $80bn from the climate sector.
Author: James Murray