Investing one percent of global wealth, or around $750 billion, into five key sectors from renewable energy to freshwaters would stimulate a Global Green New Deal, advises a policy brief released today by economists and the United Nations. But in a separate assessment today, the International Monetary Fund projects that global economic activity will shrink by one-half to one percent this year.
Issued in advance of the G20 meeting of world leaders in London on April 2, the UN brief says that mobilizing and refocusing the global economy towards investments in clean technologies and natural infrastructure such as forests and soils is the best bet for real growth, combating climate change and triggering an employment boom.
The five recommdned areas of investment are:
- Raising the energy efficiency of old and new buildings
- Renewable energies - wind, solar, geothermal and biomass
- Sustainable transport - hybrid vehicles; high speed rail and bus rapid transit systems
- The planet's ecological infrastructure - freshwaters, forests, soils and coral reefs
- Sustainable agriculture, including organic production
The report details the multiple economic, environmental and social benefits of investing a significant amount of the $3 trillion worth of stimulus packages being provided by most G-20 industrialized and emerging market economies - including the United States, China, Germany, India, Russia, and Saudi Arabia - in these five areas.
Achim Steiner, who heads the UN Environment Programme said, "The G20 meeting needs to be a milestone in terms of focusing investments that address the crises of today and those emerging from climate change, natural resource scarcity and lack of decent employment for close to two billion unemployed or underemployed people over the coming decade."
"Take energy use in buildings. It can already be cut by 80 percent in a cost-effective manner using existing technologies. Additional investments in this sector would not only stimulate the recovery of the construction and allied industries but also generate tens of millions of jobs.
"An estimated two million to 3.5 million green jobs could be generated in Europe and the United States alone with an even higher potential in developing countries," he said.
"The large scale stimulus investments planned over the coming months and the next two to four years represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient society. This opportunity must not be lost," said Steiner.