UN Environment Head says World at Green Economy Crossroads on Eve of G8 Summit
London, 9 July 2009 - In a keynote address to Chatham House in London, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said G8 leaders have a golden opportunity to focus political action towards powering forward a Green Economy future.
With some 150 days to go to the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, the UN Under-Secretary General told delegates that a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient global economy was underway propelled by the existing UN-brokered carbon markets and the current global stimulus packages.
How far this transition can go will now depend on the political will of world leaders to make good on the Green Economy pledges environmental-investment pledges by fully investing the stimuli in renewable energies and energy efficiency up to smart grids, high speed rail and more fuel-efficient, sustainable transportation.
Mr Steiner said: "A greening of the global economy was underway before the economic crisis and the more than $3 trillion-worth of stimuli packages."
"This has been in part driven by the existing carbon markets, the need to combat climate change and the urgency of energy security," he said.
Mr Steiner pointed to UNEP's recent Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative global trends report, which shows that in 2008 investment in renewables was $155 billion, compared with investment in new fossil fuel generation of $110 billion?for the first time ever.
He also cited the growth of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol with more than 4,200 projects up and running or in various advanced stages of the project pipeline ? including around a third of these involving some level of technology transfer.
"By 2012 we estimate that over 8,000 CDM projects may be up and running or in the pipeline, generating financial flows from North to South of well over $30 billion," said the UNEP Executive Director.
The economic stimulus packages are now accelerating the transition with countries from China and the Republic of Korea to at least a dozen European countries and the United States earmarking significant slices of their packages into green investments including freshwaters and ecosystems alongside energy-related clean tech.
Mr Steiner said the G8 Summit, which opens in Italy on 8 July, needed to ensure that the global economy hit the 'green tape' and keeps running through to Copenhagen and beyond rather than running out of steam half way round the track.
He welcomed UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown's suggestion that close to $100 billion should be made available as a signal that developed economies are prepared to table a financial and technological package that could be a key to Sealing a Deal on a comprehensive post-2012 climate agreement.