Going for a Green New Deal in Copenhagen
Copenhagen, 18 December 2009 - "If we don't reach a climate deal, one of the failed victims should not be the economy."
Those were the opening words of Mr. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme at an event entitled Green Economy: Implementing a New Climate Deal at the UN Climate talks in Copenhagen.
Four countries, Brazil, the Republic of Korea, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo took to the floor explaining how green jobs, growth and sustainability are essential for their very survival and future economic growth.
The green economy has been defined as one which will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon resource-efficient economy able to meet the multiple challenges and deliver the multiple opportunities of the 21st century.
A green economy adopts a sustainable path by increasing the share of GDP devoted to renewable energies, clean transportation, clean technologies, green buildings and sustainable agriculture and forestry.
Citing a recent example of "green growth" Brazil's Environment Minister, Carlos Minc explained that Brazil has just approved bids for the construction and operation of 71 wind farms with a combined capacity of 1,805 MW in the first auction of rights to this alternative energy source in the country.
The 71 facilities, which will use 773 wind turbines, could start operating on July 1, 2012.
The vast majority of the facilities will be located in northeastern Brazil, a poor region that has conditions suitable for generating electricity using wind turbines.
Mr. Deepak Bohara, Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation from Nepal explained that his cabinet had recently held a meeting at Everest Base Camp to raise awareness that Himalayan mountain glaciers are melting and causing lakes.
According to the Minister, if these lakes burst, people downstream are likely to be swept away.
"1.3 million people live across the border and the future catastrophe cannot be imagined," he added. "We want to create an atmosphere of green jobs. We can produce 100,000 megawatts of power through clean energy and hydropower which can then in turn be used in neighbouring India," Bohara concluded. "The future is in our hands."
DRC's representative, Jose Endundo Bononge, the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Tourism, said his country was on the cusp of development and had the opportunity to go "green" rather than invest in so-called older "brown" technologies.
"We need to be ambitious and we need resources to do it well. We have everything yet to do," said Bononge. "We don't want to have to correct everything in the future, we have the opportunity to start now," he added.
The last speaker, Mr Kim Chan woo from the Republic of Korea explained that their green economy strategy cuts across a wide swathe of sustainability challenges from renewable energy and waste, to transport, freshwater and forestry to foster recovery after the global recession.
The Republic of Korea launched its more than US$38 billion economic stimulus package in January this year with over 80 percent allocated to green investment and further expanded this "Green New Deal" into a full five-year US$83.6 billion Green Growth Plan.