G20 Leaders Urged to Support Global Green New Deal

WASHINGTON, DC, November 12, 2008 (ENS) - When the leaders of the G20 countries gather in Washington this weekend for a special summit on the global financial crisis, pressure will be on to seek solutions in the growth of a new green economy.

Today in Washington, Gary Gardner and Michael Renner, senior researchers with the environmental research organization Worldwatch Institute, issued a detailed proposal that they hope will focus the attention of the G20 leaders on what they are calling a "Global Green Deal."

"The challenge for global political leadership, including U.S. President-elect [Barack] Obama, is not merely to kickstart the global economy, but to do so in a way that creates jobs and stabilizes climate, increases food output using less water and pesticides, and generates prosperity with greater equality of incomes," write Gardner and Renner.

"This broad approach will require a conceptual blueprint evocative of America's 1930s New Deal, but more audacious in scope and vision," they write.

"This historic moment calls for not merely repairs to our hyper-productive, yet ailing, economy, but for a new approach suited to the realities of a heavily populated and environmentally stressed world - a Global Green Deal that shifts the focus from growth to development, and that is geared less to providing consumerist superfluities than to ensuring that nobody's true needs go unmet."

President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden today announced that they will not meet personally with G20 leaders. They have designated former Republican Congressman Jim Leach and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to meet unofficially with delegations at the G-20 summit on their behalf.

Obama Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Denis McDonough said, "This weekend's summit is an important opportunity to hear from the leaders of many of the world's largest economies. President [George W.] Bush should be commended for calling the summit. There is one president at a time in the United States, so the president-elect has asked Secretary Albright and Congressman Leach, an experienced and bipartisan team, to be available meet with and listen to our friends and allies on his behalf."

The G20 is a group of 20 economies - 19 of the world's largest national economies, plus the European Union. They are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, European Union.

Together, the G20 economies make up 90 percent of global gross national product, 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the world's population.

Already underway, the movement towards a green economy is generating businesses in renewable energies, clean tech ventures, sustainable agriculture, conservation and the intelligent management of the planet's ecosystems and nature-based infrastructure.

The initiative for a New Green Deal was introduced late last month by the United Nations Environment Programme and the British government and the idea has swftly gained support among environment and sustainable business leaders.

British Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said, "The green technological revolution needs to gather pace, as more and more of the world's jobs will in future be in environmental industries. Britain is committed to building a green economy at home and abroad. It will be good for business good for the environment and good for development."

Accelerating this transition is at the core of the Green Economy initiative and the best bet for global, sustainable wealth and employment generation for 1.3 billion poor people, said Benn.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said, "The financial, fuel and food crises of 2008 are in part a result of speculation and a failure of governments to intelligently manage and focus markets."

"But they are also part of a wider market failure triggering ever deeper and disturbing losses of natural capital and nature-based assets coupled with an over-reliance on finite, often subsidized fossil fuels," he said.

"The flip side of the coin is the enormous economic, social and environmental benefits likely to arise from combating climate change and re-investing in natural infrastructure - benefits ranging from new green jobs in clean tech and clean energy businesses up to ones in sustainable agriculture and conservation-based enterprises," said Steiner.

Former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore agrees. Expressing his opinion in the "New York Times" on November 9, he wrote, "Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis."

Gore reiterated his five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100 percent of U.S. electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years.

The plan begins with "large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity."

It continues with construction of a unified national smart grid to transport the newly generated energy to consumers, help for America's automobile industry to convert to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity, building retrofits to increase energy efficiency, and a price on carbon emissions.

"The United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world's efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation," Gore wrote.

Sustainable forestry reduces climate risk because standing trees absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

There is increasing interest in the purchase of sustainable forest products, says Jonathan Lash, president of the Washington, DC based World Resources Institute, in a new report on sustainable procurement of wood and paper products.

"Corporate managers are taking a close look at what they buy because of consumer preference for sustainable products, competitiveness, production costs and the prestige of having a green brand," wrote Lash. "We want to help them make smart choices - both for the bottom line and to benefit the environment, particularly in addressing climate change."

The World Bank Group on Tuesday, called for a "rapid response to the spreading global financial crisis" and said it would substantially increase financial support for developing countries. The Bank will launch or expansion four facilities for the crisis-hit private sector that is critical to employment, recovery and growth.

Ahead of the G20 summit, the World Bank Group said its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development could make new commitments of up to US$100 billion over the next three years.

This year, lending could almost triple to more than US$35 billion compared to US$13.5 billion last year. This increase in financial support will protect the poorest and most vulnerable from harm, support countries facing big budget short-falls, and help sustain long-term investments upon which recovery and long-term development will depend.

"Leaders meeting on Saturday to discuss the global financial crisis must not lose sight of the human crisis. As always, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are the hardest hit," said World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick, a former U.S. Trade Representative.

"The response to this crisis must be global, coordinated, flexible and fast," Zoellick said. "While the challenges need to be addressed at the country level, it is more critical than ever that the international community acts in a coordinated and supportive way to make each country's task easier."

Current estimates suggest that a one percent decline in developing country growth rates pushes an additional 20 million people into poverty. Already, 100 million people have been driven into poverty as a result of high food and fuel prices.

"The global financial crisis, coming so soon after the food and fuel crises, is likely to hurt the poor most in developing countries," said Zoellick. "Working with the IMF, UN agencies, regional development banks and others, the World Bank Group is helping both governments and the private sector through lending, equity investments, innovative new tools, and safety net programs."

The World Bank expects high income country economies to contract by 0.1 percent next year while the world economy is expected to advance by just one percent.

In Geneva on December 1, the UN Environment Programme is convening policymakers, business executives, analysts, representatives from nongovernmental and civil society organizations, and media to launch the Green Economy initiative. The objective is recognize the contributions of environmental investments to economic growth, decent jobs creation, and poverty reduction, and reflect this recognition in their policy responses to the current economic crisis and beyond.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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