In today’s Financial Times, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Al Gore co-author an editorial imploring the world to use its stimulative spending to enhance “green” infrastructure, to develop pro-poor policies and to work towards a cohesive climate strategy in Copenhagen this December.
FT (sub. req’d): Stimulus is intended to jump-start the economy, but if properly conceived and executed it can also launch us on a new, low-carbon path to green growth. Some $2,250bn (€1,750bn, £1,569bn) of stimulus has already been announced by 34 nations. This stimulus, along with new initiatives by other countries, must help catapult the world economy into the 21st century, not perpetuate the dying industries and bad habits of yesteryear. Indeed, continuing to pour trillions of dollars into carbon-based infrastructure and fossil-fuel subsidies would be like investing in subprime real estate all over again.
Eliminating the $300bn in annual global fossil fuel subsidies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 6 per cent and would add to global gross domestic product. Developing renewable energy will help where we need it most. Already, developing economies account for 40 per cent of existing global renewable resources as well as 70 per cent of solar water heating capacity.
Leaders everywhere, notably in the US and China, are realising that green is not an option but a necessity for recharging their economies and creating jobs. Globally, with 2.3m people employed in the renewable energy sector, there are already more jobs there than directly in the oil and gas industries. In the US, there are now more jobs in the wind industry than in the entire coal industry. President Barack Obama’s and China’s stimulus packages are a critical step in the right direction and their green components must be followed through urgently.
We urge all governments to expand green stimulus elements, including energy efficiency, renewables, mass transit, new smart electricity grids and reforestation, and to co-ordinate their efforts for rapid results.