Investing around $1.3 trillion, which represents about 2% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), into ten sectors could move the world economy from fossil-fuel dependent toward a low carbon economy, according to report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP). In addition, the investments would alleviate global poverty and keep stagnating economies humming, while cutting humanity’s global ecological footprint nearly in half by 2050 even in the face of rising populations.
“With 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press release. “But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone of us.”
The ten sectors that need immediate green investment, according to the report, are agriculture including supporting small farms, buildings with a focus on energy efficiency, fisheries, forestry, industry with a focus on energy efficiency, transport, waste and recycling, energy, and water.
The report, unveiled at the UNEP Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, argues that the world already spends between one and two percent of global GDP on subsidies that encourage, rather than discourage, unsustainable use of the environment, including subsidies on fossil fuels, fisheries, and pesticides.
“We live in some of the most challenging times that perhaps any generation has faced, but also one of the most exciting moments where the possibilities of re-shaping and re-focusing towards a sustainable 21st century have never been more tangible,” Steiner said in his opening address to the forum.
According to the report, while the transition would mean the loss of jobs in some sectors, it would eventually produce enough jobs with decent pay to make up for any losses. In addition, the impact of these green investments would spur greater economic growth than business-as-usual.
(02/09/2011) At an EU meeting in Brussels, dubbed the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit, the UK’s Prince Charles made the case that without healthy ecosystems, the global economy will suffer.
(11/23/2010) Ecuador’s big idea—potentially Earth-rattling—goes something like this: the international community pays the small South American nation not to drill for nearly a billion barrels of oil in a massive block of Yasuni National Park. While Ecuador receives hundred of millions in an UN-backed fund, what does the international community receive? Arguably the world’s most biodiverse rainforest is saved from oil extraction, two indigenous tribes’ requests to be left uncontacted are respected, and some 400 million metric tons of CO2 is not emitted from burning the oil. In other words, the international community is being asked to put money where its mouth is on climate change, indigenous rights, and biodiversity loss. David Romo Vallejo, professor at the University of San Francisco Quito and co-director of Tiputini research station in Yasuni, recently told mongabay.com in an interview that this is “the best proposal so far made to ensure the protection of this incredible site.”
(10/06/2010) The cost of environmental damage to the global economy hit 6.6 trillion US dollars—11 percent of the global GDP—in 2008, according to a new study by the Principles for Responsible (PRI) and UNEP Finance Initiative. If business continues as usual, the study predicts that environmental damage will cost 28 trillion dollars by 2050. The new study undercuts the popular belief that environmental health and economic welfare are at odds.