At the end of last week, the head of the UN Climate Change secretariat argued that, instead of sidelining the fight against climate change, the global credit crisis could hasten efforts to create “green growth” industries by revamping the financial system behind them.
Yvo de Boer, who heads the Bonn-based UN Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference: “The credit crisis can be used to make progress in a new direction, an opportunity for global green economic growth.” He continued: “The credit crunch I believe is an opportunity to rebuild the financial system that would underpin sustainable growth … Governments now have an opportunity to create and enforce policy which stimulates private competition to fund clean industry.”
But just the opposite seems to be happening. “The truth is there is a very large question mark hanging over the idea that Congress would take economy-wide action on global warming with the economy in such anemic shape,” argues Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.
European Union leaders are discussing delaying planned emissions cuts in response to the financial crisis. In the US, too, attempts to tackle climate change are being made more difficult by the current financial mayhem. At the very least, fear of a prolonged economic downturn is expected to delay attempts by the US to cap greenhouse gases, despite the fact that both political parties are trying to argue that tackling climate change remains a priority.
However some Republicans are breaking cover. Limits of carbon dioxide would increase energy costs and lead the country “off the economic cliff,” argues Republican Joe Barton, from Texas.
It looks as if the global economy has jumped off the economic cliff already. A green revolution could be the only salvation..