Ban calls on Washington economic summit to tackle global warming as well

11 November 2008
Nukunonu Atoll seaside, one of the regions of the world vulnerable to climate change

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for this weekend’s Washington summit on the global financial crisis to seize the opportunity to tackle global warming as well, stressing that such action would create jobs and boost the world’s economies.

“The global financial crisis is most immediate; the more existential is climate change. The urgency of the first is no excuse for neglecting the second. To the contrary, it is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone,” he wrote in a joint op-ed piece with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Indonesia was the site of last year’s conference on climate change in Bali, while Poland is hosting further negotiations in Poznan in December and Denmark will host talks next year to draw up a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases, which expires in 2012.

In the op-ed, first published in The International Herald Tribune yesterday, the four leaders stressed that a “green economy” is the answer to both the financial crisis and climate change, since the hottest growth industry in the world just now is renewable energy.

“That’s where jobs of the future are already being created, and where much of the technological innovation is taking place that will usher in our next era of economic transformation,” they wrote.

“The UN Environment Programme estimates that global investment in zero-greenhouse energy will reach $1.9 trillion by 2020 – a significant portion of global GDP. Worldwide, nearly 2 million people are employed in the new wind and solar power industries, half of them in China alone.

“Brazil’s biofuels programme has been creating nearly a million jobs annually. In Germany, investment in environmental technology is expected to quadruple over the coming years, reaching 16 per cent of manufacturing output by 2030 and employing more workers than the automobile industry.”

The four called for policies and financial incentives within a global framework to steer economic growth in a low-carbon direction, thus eliminating or greatly reducing the human-generated greenhouse gases that heat up the atmosphere and threaten the environment and biodiversity with disastrous consequences.

“With the right policies and the right incentives, we can be sure that developed and developing countries alike contribute to the cause of fighting global warming, each in their own way and without compromising every nation’s right to development and the economic well-being of its citizens,” they said.


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