World leaders were quick to call the G20 Summit a success yesterday. Barack Obama hailed the summit “a historic turning point” in the pursuit of world economic recovery.
Gordon Brown celebrated the “success”, saying it had announced the creation of a “new world order”.
But do you ever get a sense of dreadful déjà vu?
There is no new world order, there is just the old, and once again the horrible sense of a wasted opportunity – this time on an historic level. Gordon Brown is said to be quite unique in terms of a politician in that he really understands the detailed numbers of the policies that he promotes.
So he should have realised the disastrous nature of some of the decisions he was making. A report commissioned by environment group WWF reveals that many of the economic recovery packages discussed are a missed opportunity in terms of stimulating a green recovery, and actually run the risk of locking the world into a high-carbon future.
Of the $1.1 trillion worth of stimulus packages analysed in this study, the “effective adjusted” climate friendly expenditure amounts to just $73 billion – a tiny share (6.6%) of the total stimulus. In the UK, Gordon Brown’s own £20 billion fiscal stimulus package would have a negative impact overall in the fight against climate change because it includes £500 million investment in roads.
The countries giving highest priority to green measures were the US and Germany, but their investment totalled only around 0.5% of GDP, compared to the 1-3% thought necessary to keep global temperature rises below two degrees Celsius, said the report.
Barack Obama said at a news conference afterwards that “Today, we’ve learned the lessons of history.” But that is not true. It is as if the leaders have forgotten the reasons why the financial crisis happened in the first place, and that they have completely failed to understand the magnitude of the risk of climate change.
The chaos of climate change threatens to completely dwarf anything we have witnesses in the current financial crash, yet once again the environment was just a bumper sticker stuck on the Hummer of global economy, rather than the engine.
The voices calling for a Green New Deal were truly and completely silenced. As the slogan goes for the Summit: “Stability, growth and jobs”. We may be heading for growth and jobs but they aren’t green jobs and that will only bring instability…