" "he global economy is showing signs ofrecovery, in particular in Asia. Thequestion is whether this will be a GreenEconomy Recovery in the 21st centurywith an emphasis on low-carbon, clean-tech, resource-efficient sectors and services or whether it is one that,despite some notable national exceptions, looksbackwards or, at the very least, maintains the vacuumof the status quo. First the positive news: Some economies have put thefinancial and economic crisis to good use. Last year, UNEP presented its Green New Deal policybrief to its annual gathering of environment ministers. Itrecommended that one per cent of GDP, invested ingreen investments, could go a long way to revving-up theglobal economy while stimulating low-carbon, resource-efficient sectors; generating employment and settingthe stage for a more sustainable development path. Professor Edward Barbier, one of the authors of theUNEP brief and a leading environmental economist,has assessed how far countries have so far gone. Of the US$3 trillion spent or earmarked globally for thefiscal stimulus, just over US$460 billion is aimed atgreen investments; this is equal to around 15 per centof the total fiscal stimulus or around 0.7 per cent of theG20's GDP. China and the Republic of Korea lead the way at threeper cent of GDP, followed by Saudi Arabia, 1.7 percent; Australia, 1.2 per cent; and Japan, 0.8 per cent. This is followed by the United States, with 0.7 per centof GDP; Germany, 0.5 per cent; France 0.3 per cent;and Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom,0.2 per cent. Both China and the Republic of Korea are embeddingthese policy choices in medium-term planning. Forexample, the government of the Republic of Korea hasa five-year green-growth investment plan. It will spendUS$60 billion to cut carbon dependency with the aimof boosting economic growth to 2020 and generatingup to 1.8 million jobs. COPENHAGEN PROVIDESCOOPERATION, ECONOMIC ANDFOREST STIMULUS The UN climate convention meeting also provided an"economic stimulus" with developed economiespledging funding of US$30 billion over three years.This could rise to US$100 billion a year by 2020. The funds will assist developing economies to not onlyadapt to climate change but to also assist in atransition to a low-carbon economy. Some of the fundswill also be earmarked for investments in forests underthe Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forestDegradation (REDD). UN-REDD, of which UNEP is a key part, is preparingsome nine countries including Papua New Guinea,Panama and the Democratic Republic of Congo for thisnew opportunity. All in all, business opportunities inareas such as renewable and clean or cleaner energygeneration alongside ones in natural resourcemanagement. The Copenhagen Accord, to which over 100 countrieshave now associated themselves, is also the firstcooperative climate document bringing togetherdeveloped and developing economies on emissionreductions and constraints. BUSINESSES NEED TO EMBRACE A LOW-CARBON GROWTHTHE BIG ANDRAPIDLY GROWINGECONOMIES HAVETHE FINANCE,KNOW-HOW ANDCAPACITY TO RECEIVE AND TO INVEST SIGNIFICANTSUMS038SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSTACHIM STEINER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE UNITED NATIONSENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME (UNEP)Photo: UN Photo/Ryan Brown
THE NEW ECONOMY002Above: Achim Steinercalls for greatergovernment focus on theclimate change issueIf all the pledges and intentions outlined are fully met, then this too can provide Green investmentopportunities. Meanwhile some countries are pressingforward with new technologies in the field. Only a fewdays ago the US Department of Energy announced acarbon capture and storage project linked to a bigpulverised coal-fired power station in Alabama. Increasing numbers of financial institutions andlenders are requesting companies to disclose theircarbon footprints, the latest being the Securities andExchange Commission in New York. Meanwhile, the lending criteria of banks including theWorld Bank are also coming under increasing scrutiny.The recent row over South Africa's planned coal-firedpower station, its first in 15 years, is a case in point.While the World Bank voted in favour of the close toUS$4 billion loan, concern by several countries didsecure provisions on improved energy efficiency andinvestments in renewables in South Africa. REALITY CHECKS IN A RAPIDLYCHANGING WORLD There are also some reality checks here and someunderlying assumptions that can flip the glass to beingeither half-full or half-empty. Copenhagen failed todeliver an international regulatory framework or legallybinding treaty. There remains debate as to the paceand scale of the US$30 billion investment, alongsideconcerns as to how much of this will be new and howmuch will be old, or re-packaged money. Meanwhile there is a sense of increasing bilateralism?