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World leaders fail to stimulate green economy

Leaders of the world’s 20 richest nations “missed an opportunity” to kick start the green economy in their efforts to arrest the global financial downturn at a summit in London yesterday.

Science and green leaders expressed “disappointment” at the G20 summit’s failure to include a commitment to spend a proportion of the agreed $1.1 trillion financial injection to resuscitate the global economy on a low carbon stimulus package.

The meeting’s final agreed statement on actions to take forward leaves mention of climate change and low carbon technologies to the final paragraphs. It says, “We agreed to make the best possible use of investment funded by fiscal stimulus programmes towards the goal of building a resilient, sustainable and green recovery. We will make the transition towards clean, innovative and resource efficient, low carbon technologies and infrastructure.”

The statement adds that world leaders “reaffirm” commitments to address climate change and to reach a deal at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

Responding to the outcome, Martin Parry, past co-chair of the IPCC’s working group II on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, told Nature, “The statement on climate change looks like an afterthought and appears to restate commitments that have already been made.”

David King, chief scientific advisor to the UK government from 2000 – 2007 and a vocal campaigner on the need to tackle climate change, told Nature that world leaders had “missed an opportunity” to integrate the recovery of the world economy with the future sustainability of the global financial system.

Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, an independent research organisation based in London, UK, told Nature, “There was very little recognition of the real crunch issues of climate and natural resources. It could be really damaging to restart the global economy on the same line as we left it.”

World leaders agreed to a further G20 meeting later this year, to review progress made on goals set at the London summit. Read the full story on Nature News [subscription].

Natasha Gilbert


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