Saturday, June 26, 2010

The G20 and the Green Economy

The green economy can provide a very real return for people and economies and the G20 can play a pivotal role in sustainable development.

The Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, said that green spending offers "a very real return for people and economies, north and south...The G20 particularly has huge potential in energy, mobility, buildings, agriculture, forestry, [and] water."

Last year, ahead of the April, 2009 G20 summit, over 50 of the world's largest businesses joined forces to call for sustainable stimulus packages. An open letter to the British Prime Minister asked for a coordinated global recovery package with private sector incentives to stimulate the low carbon economy.

This year, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are in recovery and green projects have helped to stimulate the sagging world economy. Although $500 billion has been earmarked for green initiatives, UNEP has a $750 billion dollar goal. It is worth noting that developed nations are responsible for the majority of the 250 billion dollar shortfall. In contrast, China is responsible for almost 40 percent of funds earmarked green

Unlike many in the developed world, China is investing massively in cleantech and this has effectively positioned it as a world leader in renewable energy. This sector now employs 1.5 million people with 300,000 new workers added in 2009 alone. India has been successful in its efforts to improve water security.

China and India may have received considerable attention for their growing emissions, however they are also showing leadership. It is the developed world that is falling behind and must step up its efforts.

"The green economy is not a luxury, but a 21st century imperative on a planet of six billion, rising to 9 billion in just 40 years," Steiner and Pavan Sukhdev, head of UNEP's Green Economy initiative, wrote in a pre-G20 comment.

There is a shift to greener economic growth, and this includes a higher value on nature, but the developed world must assume greater responsibility. Steiner has indicated that the G20 summit is an opportunity for developed nations to contribute their share to the green economy.
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