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?
in the air. Only a few weeks ago General Electric ofAmerica and the state of California announcedcooperation with China's Ministry of Railways. Theplan is to use Chinese railway technology to assist inthe development of the state's high speed rail links. Afascinating reflection of the way geopolitics areshaping the current world. But also underlining thatwhile the big and rapidly growing economies have thefinance, know-how and capacity to receive and toinvest significant sums. GREEN ECONOMY: FUTURE,FRACTURE POINTS AND FAIRNESS So while some may board the high speed train to futureGreen Growth, others may be left at the platformwithout a ticket. What are the prospects for smallBelow: New York's stockexchange040SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSisland states and for many smaller economies oncontinents such as Africa, Latin America and Asia? Many of these still require pre-investment assistanceand capacity building if they are to also enjoyeconomic growth, and more importantly sustainableGreen Growth. Business, in partnership with the UN,governments and public finance houses has animportant role to play in assisting the realisation of afairer and more equitable world. It also has a vested interest in seeing markets for low-carbon, high-tech investments flourish everywhere andnot just in a few nations. A vested interest too in seeingthe sustainable and more intelligent management ofincreasingly scarce natural or nature-based resources- these will be constraints over the coming decades, ifnot addressed. UN Photo/Evan Schneider