Tuesday, March 31, 2009

UN Secretary Urges G-20 Investments In Clean Energy & Jobs

Mar 31: On April 2, 2009 world leaders will gather in London for the G-20 summit to address the global financial crisis. The meeting marks President Obama's first trip to Europe since being elected and his first international meeting with world leaders. The G-20 consists of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union who is represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank. The G-20 represents more than 85 percent of the global economy.

At the summit countries will attempt to come together to enhance global coordination in order to help restore global economic growth. They will focus on three commitments: First, to take whatever action is necessary to stabilize financial markets and enable families and businesses to get through the recession; Second, to reform and strengthen the global financial and economic system to restore confidence and trust; and Third, to put the global economy on track for sustainable growth. While not a major focus of the meeting, energy and climate change issues will be a part of many discussions.

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who will be in attendance at the meeting said in a release that he believes G20 leaders must address true global stimulus, protectionism, green growth and rethinking the Bretton Woods institutions. He warned that the economics crisis had the potential to turn into a political crisis. He said, "There’s a thin line between failed banks and failed states. And this can affect us all." Ban said he wanted to see a "substantial and truly global, stimulus package" that meets the needs of developing countries. He said existing commitments to increase aid must be fully met, delivery must be accelerated and the delivery organizations – such as the UN and the World Bank, must be fully funded.

Warning against protectionism, which ‘slows down recovery, the UN Secretary General spoke of the need for sustainable growth, based on new, large scale investments in energy efficiently, clean energy and green jobs. He said, "Green growth can and must be a major component of any global stimulus plan. It has the greatest potential to create jobs." He said, "It is at the core of the climate change threat, an important challenge that we cannot ignore." He indicated he will ask leaders at the London Summit to commit to "sealing a deal" at the climate talks in Copenhagen later this year.

According to information from the Summit website the G-20 have agreed previously "that we must not allow the financial turmoil to distract us from meeting our wider objectives to meet the challenges of climate change and development. It is possible leaders will want to consider the link between economic recovery and moving to a low carbon growth path, as well as climate aspects of international financial institutions reform to ensure we can ensure a green recovery." The information indicates, "The G-20 Finance Ministers will stick to their agreed work plan to consider climate financing issues, with the intention of feeding in this work to the broader UNFCCC process which will conclude in Copenhagen at the end of 2009. The aim is to support and complement the United Nations process and we look forward to discussing a range of mechanisms including, in particular, further development of carbon markets."

The agenda for the Summit includes the formal Summit meeting held at the ExCel Centre in London on April 2, preceded on April 1, by an evening reception and a working dinner. On April 2, there will be a number of meetings including a working lunch. All of these discussions will be held in private. The Summit will be followed by a briefing for the press.

According to a White House briefing, President Obama will spend the bulk of Wednesday and Thursday at the G-20 summit. According to the briefing, "The President, at the summit, has two main objectives, and that is ensuring that there is concerted action around the globe to jumpstart economic growth, and that we are advancing a regulatory reform agenda to ensure that this crisis never happens again and prevent anything like that in the future. Secondly, and just broadly, the United States is committed to ensuring that both of those messages are heard throughout the summit." From the G-20 meeting the President will continue his European visit with stops in Strasbourg, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; and in Turkey.

In a related matter, at a March 31, press conference in London, 52 companies announced they have joined forces with 34 experts and organizations to create an unprecedented Low-Carbon Prosperity Task Force. The groups said they were responding to an invitation made at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos by Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The Task Force said it will work with government and UN officials to develop a set of practical projects and policy proposals around the world, which will significantly stimulate the low-carbon economy from 2010 onward. An open letter was sent to Prime Minister Brown, setting out the Task Force's suggested agenda for the coming months.

Richard Samans, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum said, "We believe 2009 is a crucial year for two reasons. The international community faces the twin challenges of dealing with the most serious global economic crisis since the 1930s and negotiating an ambitious agreement on climate change. We suggest that the two agendas can and should be designed to be mutually reinforcing. Global economic growth and the prospects for achievement of a UN climate agreement in Copenhagen later this year can both be strengthened by placing low-carbon growth strategies at the heart of economic stimulus measures now being implemented in many countries."

The main focus for the Task Force is to identify exactly how to create millions of green jobs in the short run and deflect economic growth onto a more sustainable, low-carbon path for the longer term. They said by working with organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation and others, a key element of the Task Force's work is to develop practical ideas on how to get significant flows of green technology and investment into developing countries fast.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP said, "The G-20 governments can, politically and practically, signal their determination to transform the current economic crisis into an opportunity by committing a serious part of the multi-trillion dollar stimulus packages to low-carbon investments. In doing so, they will be setting the stage for sealing the deal in Copenhagen, and setting the stage for a resource efficient, innovation-led 21st century green economy. That is what business needs to know and that is what the low-carbon prosperity initiative is calling for."

Access the G-20 London Summit Meeting website for complete information (
click here). Access the overall G-20 website for additional information (click here). Access a release and video of the UN's Secretary General comments (click here). Access the G-20 information relating to climate change (click here). Access the White House G-20 briefing (click here). Access a release from UNEP on the Task Force and links to a 29-page UNEP Global Green New Deal Policy Brief and related information (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]