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Remarks by UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, at the "Beijing High-level Conference on Climate Change: Technology Development and Technology Transfer"

Beijing, 7 November 2008 - Honorable and Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

You meet in the wake of a series of crises that have shocked and rocked the planet and its people. The food and the fuel crises have been followed by the financial one and an extraordinary international response to bail-out and stabilize the banking sector. These crises request us to think long and hard about the economic models this century has inherited from the last. We need as a global community to handle these challenges not one by one, but as a collective, coordinated and comprehensive response. For we know there are more challenges on the horizon. There is the carbon crisis and a nature one looming.

Honorable delegates,

Trillions of dollars have been spent on the financial crisis including billions lined up for stimulus packages. We need to make this money work harder. It needs to deal with multiple challenges now and shortly in front of us.

UNEP's new Green Economy initiative, launched in late October and popularly known as a Global Green New Deal, is precisely aimed at this. Its six themes, ranging from clean energy and rural energy to 'ecosystem infrastructure' and green cities echo the climate change challenge: but also the wider sustainability ones.

One of the fastest and most constructive ways of putting people and markets back to work is in spending stimulus packages on national and nation-wide energy efficiency projects. Projects that invest in boosting the efficiency of energy infrastructure, smart metering, insulation and energy saving appliances.

By some estimates some $172 billion spent annually in the European Union up to 2030 could cut by 75 per cent emissions from homes and generate 2.5 million jobs.

Renewable energy, one of the fastest ways of getting energy to the 2 billion without access to it, already employees nearly half a million people in the wind and solar sectors in Denmark in India, in Germany and China. More like over a million jobs if the solar heating sector in China and elsewhere is counted in.

With the right pump-priming, employment in these industries could rise now and grow to nearly 8.5 million by 2030 if not more. In Nigeria, a biofuels industry based on cassava and sugar can crops might sustain and industry employing 200,000. India could generate 900,000 jobs by 2025 in biomass gasification of which 300,000 would be in the manufacturing of gasifier stoves and 600,000 in biomass production processing into briquettes and pellets, supply chain etc. Meanwhile some 10 million people in China are employed in recycling.

The challenge is to make all these jobs, found also from Nairobi to Sao Paolo, decent ones. This underlines one route out of poverty, one way of dealing with scarce natural resources and one way of bringing the urban poor into the economy that in turn empowers them as citizens and generates income tax and other revenues for urban planners; councils and central government.

Meanwhile deforestation accounts for some 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and a great deal of this wood goes into urban construction projects and homes. An investment of perhaps $17 to $33 billion might halve this while generating livelihoods, jobs and incomes for the rural poor and indigenous people assuming he right safeguards. Some $45 billion invested in the world's network of 100,000 protected areas could secure nature based services worth some $5.2 trillion annually.

It could also reduce further release of greenhouse gases. UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre estimates that the world's 100,000 protected areas contain 15 per cent of the globe's stored carbon.

Sustainable transport networks are part of this Global New Green Deal able to reduce pollution, greenhouse gases and noise pollution while tackling congestion and social exclusion. Road building is the least effective infrastructure development in terms of jobs?buses and railways generate far more.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Some 30 days after this conference, governments meet in Poznan, Poland for the next round of negotiations under the UN climate convention. There have been suggestions that, at this economically difficult time combating climate change should go on the back burner. This is the wrong economic argument as I hope my remarks have made clear. We need concrete outcomes that will accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy by fleshing out the deal that will be done at the crucial climate meeting in Copenhagen in 2009. This includes a long term vision of cooperative climate action backed up by financial landscape required to mobilize the markets and technology transfer sand the trillions of dollars required as well as solid progress on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD).

If governments are looking for big and long lasting stimulus packages they need look no further than real achievement in Poznan followed by an outstanding Global Green New Deal in Copenhagen.




Further Resources

The Green Economy Initiative

UNEP Resources on Climate Change


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