5 April 2009
Surveying the outcomes of this week's G20 summit, one of Britain's leading Green politicians today called the summit's outcomes a "kick in the teeth for British industry and global sustainability."
Darren Johnson AM, Green Party spokesperson on trade and industry, said:
"British industry needs a shot in the arm, but it's been given a kick in the teeth.
"Gordon Brown's approach, in Britain and globally, has been a huge missed opportunity. In Britain he's pushing for jobs-poor, environmentally dubious technology in the form of so-called 'clean coal,' and equally jobs-poor but dangerous technology in the form of nuclear. And on the world stage he's managed to pull off a global stimulus that includes less than seven per cent climate-friendly investment." (1)
Mr Johnson, a London Assembly member since 2000 and the Green Party's parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford, continued:
"Britain's over-reliance on financial services has been a spectacular failure. It's time we re-built the real economy. There are a raft of emerging technologies waiting for government investment to kick-start the Green industrial revolution that will give us the economy of the future - a balanced economy that includes heavy industry and self-reliance on energy. We have a golden opportunity to beat the recession and the climate crisis in one - and we're wasting it."
UK carbon boost exceeds climate-friendly stimulus
Darren Johnson's comments reflected those of the broader progressive movement. Glen Tarman, chair of the Put People First coalition of trade unions and NGOs, said yesterday that while the G20 had made progress on some critical issues, there were also "missed opportunities, especially on building a green economy" (2).
Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins accused G20 leaders of "short-changing the planet" (3).
Meanwhile Kim Cartensen, director of WWF's Global Climate Initiative, was telling journalists at the UN climate talks in Bonn: "Unfortunately, the packages reveal inadequate incentives for greener technologies or any pronounced move away from high-carbon investment." A joint study by WWF and E3G found that for the UK, the amount of carbon-intensive stimulus has actually exceeded the amount devoted to climate protecting measures (4).
And Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said: "I'm afraid some of the European stimulus packages are still relatively vague on the criteria that would create a green new deal dimension" (5).
G20 "has put back chances of stopping runaway warming"
In today's Independent on Sunday, widely-respected environment editor Geoffrey Lean said: "It was meant, in Gordon Brown's words, to strike 'a global green new deal' to tackle climate change and pull the world out of recession at the same time. In fact, the G20 meeting has sharply put back the chance of an international pact to stop global warming running out of control" (6).
Darren Johnson concluded: "Every time we see evidence of progress we also see evidence that governments are dragging their feet. They don't seem to understand that the policies we need for tackling climate change will bring huge social and economic benefits.
"We need more Greens in elected office, because we need to push parliaments and assemblies and local councils towards a better understanding and a better set of policies."
1. Agence France-Presse has reported that of the 1.1 trillion dollars' worth of stimulus included in the economic recovery plans reviewed, climate friendly expenditures amounted to 73 billion dollars, less than seven percent of the total. See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090402/sc_afp/unclimatewarmingeconomyenergystimulus.
6. Geoffrey Lean continued: "Far from being at the heart of last week's London summit, the looming climate crisis was relegated to a brief, vague and weaselly-worded afterthought at the very end of the communiqué. This has had an immediate dampening effect on negotiations on a new treaty supposed to be agreed at a vital meeting in Copenhagen at the end of the year... Participants in the negotiations – now under way in Bonn – say that, partly as a result, they are now further from reaching agreement than they were towards the end of George Bush's presidency, despite the new energy and commitment brought to environmental matters by the Obama administration. Rich and poor countries now appear to be further apart than at the end of 2007, when the former president was still trying to obstruct progress." See http://www.independent.co.uk:80/environment/climate-change/hopes-for-climate-treaty-set-back-by-g20s-weasel-words-1662935.html.