Press Releases May 2010 - From Global Green New Deal to Global Green Recovery - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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From Global Green New Deal to Global Green Recovery

Leading Environmental Economist Makes the Case for Accelerated and Sustained Action

New UNEP Book Underlines How Asia is Surging Forward with Green Investments While Rest of G20 Lags Behind

Nairobi/Geneva, 3 May 2010 - Asia and in particular China and the Republic of Korea are pioneering an economic and employment recovery based in part on significant investments in a Green Economy.

Over a third of China's stimulus package, equal to three per cent of its GDP, is being spent on high speed rail to boosting its already impressive growth in areas such as wind and solar power and energy efficient lighting.

China is already the leading global producer of solar cells, wind turbines and solar water heaters giving it s renewable energy sector valued at $17 billion which employs close to one million people or 0.1 per cent of the working population.

Meanwhile the Republic of Korea's (South Korea) green new deal plan is allocating 95 per cent of its fiscal stimulus or three per cent of GDP into environmental sectors including low emission vehicles.

Its five-year green-growth investment plan, launched in July 2009, will spend $60 billion to cut carbon dependency with the aim of boosting economic growth to 2020 and generating up to 1.8 million jobs.

This is in contrast to the United States green stimulus, which despite amounting to 12 per cent of the American Recovery and Investment Act, represents only 0.7 per cent of GDP.

And the European Union's green stimulus, whereby 50 per cent of the overall package, represents an investment of just $22.8 billion in low carbon investments or 0.2 per cent of GDP.

These are among the findings in a new book, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Cambridge University Press (CUP) by Edward Barbier, a leading economist and consultant to UNEP's Global Green New Deal/Green Economy Initiative based at the University of Wyoming in the United States.

"With China and South Korea leading the way in environmental investments, other G20 countries must unite to promote a sustainable global economic recovery both through fiscal stimulus and long-term policy implementation," says Professor Barbier, whose book is entitled A Global Green New Deal: Rethinking the Economic Recovery.

'Indeed without a long term vision on how to further catalyze and embed the environment within the economy, there is a real danger that many of the G20's green stimuli will wither and simply go to waste," he adds.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, says: "The financial and economic crisis triggered a fundamental awareness that investments in the environment may be the key to tackling multiple challenges from climate change and food shortages to natural resource scarcity and unemployment".

"Last year UNEP and its advisors recommended that countries which invest one per cent of their GDP in environmental sectors could begin realizing this low carbon, resource efficient, Green Economy path," he adds.

"Professor Barbier's book underlines that while some economies have seized this opportunity, others have not: with the exception of several Asian economies, there remains a gap between ambition and action. 2010, via the G8 and G20 meetings and others?such as the World Bank and IMF events?offer a chance to close and to bridge this ambition gap while broadening the opportunities for Green Growth to a wider number of developing economies on continents such as Africa and Latin America," says Mr Steiner.

Background and Some Facts and Figures from the New Book

UNEP launched its Green New Deal policy brief to its annual gathering of environment ministers in February 2009 with the recommendation that one per cent of GDP be spent on green initiatives.

The new book is expanded version of the brief and an assessment on how far countries have gone towards that goal in terms of investment but also fundamental policy changes and directions.

  • Every $1 billion invested in energy efficiency and clean energy in the United States could eventually generate energy savings of $450 million per year.

  • Cuts in annual greenhouse-gas emissions could be more than 500,000 tonnes by 2020 leading to an employment boost of around 30,000 job-years ? a 20% increase in jobs over traditional fiscal stimulus measures such as income tax cuts or road building.

A key recommendation in a UNEP report of 2009 was that 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) be spent on green initiatives.

The G20, which accounts for two-thirds of the world's populations, 90% of Global GDP and three quarters of global greenhouse-gas emission, should be financing this.

The report also stressed the need for policy changes at national and global levels to support green fiscal spending.

Professor Barbier estimates that of the $3 trillion spent or earmarked globally for the fiscal stimulus, just over $460 billion is aimed at green investments.

This is equal to around 15 per cent of the total fiscal stimulus or around 0.7 per cent of the G20's GDP.

China and the Republic of Korea lead the way at three per cent of GDP, followed by Saudi Arabia, 1.7 per cent; Australia, 1.2 per cent and Japan, 0.8 per cent.

This is followed by the United States, with 0.7 per cent of its stimuli being green; Germany, 0.5 per cent; France 0.3 per cent and Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom, 0.2 per cent.

The book also underlines opportunities that may be missed if well-targeted environmental investments backed by policies such as phasing out fuel subsidies to smart market mechanisms such as feed-in tariffs, are halted or scrapped.

Professor Barbier points out that scrapping the $300 billion a year fossil fuel subsidies alone could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 6% and add 0.1% to world GDP.

He argues that adopting environmental pricing policies that capture the true value of natural resources allied to canceling a suite of subsidies could increase global GDP by 0.7%-2.2%.

If such policies were internationally coordinated, then such measures could increase the G20's GDP by 1.1%- 3.2%.

"The problems of energy insecurity, climate change, environmental degradation and global poverty will only worsen if we fail to green our current global economic recovery efforts," says Professor Barbier.

Notes to Editors:

For more information on A Global Green New Deal: Rethinking the Economic Recovery please go to the Cambridge University Press website:

Edward B. Barbier is the John S. Bugas professor of Economics in the Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming. He has more than 25 years' experience as an environmental and Resource economist, working mainly on the economics of environment and development issues. He is the author of many books on environmental policy.Some of his well-known works include Blueprint for a Green Economy (with David Pearce and Anil Markandya, 1989) and Natural Resources and Economic Development (2005). For more information:

UNEP Green Economy Initiative

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) seeks to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. The Global Green New Deal has inspired the creation of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, for more information go to:

For more information please contact:

For an interview with the author, or to receive a review copy of the book, please contact Gretchen Carroll at Cambridge University Press on +44 1223 326 274 or

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, +41 795 965 737 or +254 733632755, or

Moira O'Brien-Malone, Head, DTIE Communications, UNEP Paris, Tel: +33 1 44 37 76 12 or




Further Resources

UNEP: Green Economy Initiative

Press Release in Korean

Press Release in Arabic

UNEP: Overview of the Republic of Korea's National Strategy for Green Growth


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