Climate Feedback

The not-green-enough New Deal

Nicola Jones

Just over a year ago, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published its Global Green New Deal policy brief — a proposal to save the planet at the same time as rescuing the economy. How is that going? Not well enough, according to environmental economist Edward Barbier. Barbier wrote the consultancy report that formed the basis of the UNEP plan, and has a book (A Global Green New Deal: Rethinking the Economic Recovery (Cambridge Univ. Press)) due out on 27 April. He reviews the situation in an opinion piece this week in Nature. <img alt=“greendeal.jpg” src=“http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/greendeal.jpg” width=“300” height=“404” align=“right”//

Although nations have spent more than US$463.3 billion on green stimulus during the recession, this encompasses just 15% of the total fiscal stimulus (about $3 trillion), and 0.7% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Barbier’s report recommended a global expenditure of 1% GDP on green projects, from investments in alternative energy development to improvement of public transport or energy efficiencies.

A few nations have spent big: South Korea and China allocated 3% of their GDP to green measures. The rest of the group of 20 wealthiest and developing nations (G20) should catch up, says Barbier. Putting more effort into green projects now could improve international competitiveness, and initiating policy measure such as carbon taxes would ease debts, he notes. The G20 must use its June summit meeting in Toronto, Canada, to set things on track, he argues.

The full piece is available to those with a subscription here.

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