Leaders call for push towards green energy in UNEP's 'Our Planet' magazine
Nairobi, 6 December 2010 - In separate articles in this month's Our Planet, the flagship magazine of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), British Prime Minister David Cameron and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero underline how a global shift to a low-carbon, green economy can help combat climate change, reduce emissions and create jobs.
While describing last year's climate talks as a "setback", Mr. Cameron writes that the 2010 meeting in Cancun represents an opportunity for renewed global commitment on climate change - spurred on by the damaging effects of extreme weather events in Pakistan, China and Russia earlier this year.
"We have to show in Cancun that the United Nations Framework is capable of getting us back on track towards a global deal", says Mr. Cameron. "We have to make the case for acting on climate change at every opportunity. We should be great advocates of green growth and the tremendous opportunity of a low carbon market already worth GBP3.2 trillion (US$5.0 trillion) and forecast to grow by around 4 per cent a year over the next five years."
The United Kingdom currently has the world's largest number of wind energy projects installed, in planning or in construction. In Our Planet, Mr. Cameron writes that developing clean energy projects in the developing world is a key strategy for reducing long-term global emissions.
"We must focus also focus on the huge opportunity of helping developing countries make a direct leap to low carbon - avoiding the high-carbon era that has dominated the developed world - helping to reduce energy costs and improve the standard of living for millions of people", he says.
A move to cleaner energy is also the theme of Prime Minister Zapatero's contribution to Our Planet, in which he describes the global financial downturn not as a barrier to change, but as an opportunity for a move towards a more sustainable model for growth, or a "Global Green New Deal".
"More than three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change, stem from energy consumption", says Mr. Zapatero. "A gradual change in the energy model is therefore needed."
Mr. Zapatero writes that the growth of European Union's renewable energy sector has helped to reduce member states' energy import bills by a projected EUR60 billion (US$80 billion) by 2020 and EUR150 billion (US$199 billion) by 2030.
"In doing so, we will not only reduce emissions, but generate employment and stimulate economic activity. It is foreseen that the European Union's 2020 renewable energy target will create an estimated 2.8 million jobs in that sector", he writes.
A recent UNEP study conducted in collaboration with researchers from 25 leading climate modeling centres, shows that if all countries fully implement pledges linked with last year's Copenhagen Accord, global emissions by 2020 could fall to 49 Gigatonnes (Gt) of equivalent CO2.
The Emissions Gap Report says that could leave a gap of 5Gt between this current ambition and where scientists say emissions need to be in 2020 to stand a reasonable chance of keeping a global temperature rise to less than 2°C by 2050.
Last month, UNEP also published 30 Ways in 30 Days - a compilation of success stories showing how communities and enterprises across the world are implementing solutions to climate change and helping countries, households and businesses move towards low-emission, climate-resilient growth.
Full versions of the articles by Prime Minster Cameron and Prime Minster Zapatero are available in a special Climate Change issue of Our Planet at: http://www.unep.org/OurPlanet/2010/dec/en/