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Colouring a Black Economy Green
The word ‘green’ is associated with renewal, with a sustainable future and, above
all else, with hope. But how does the world transition to a new green economic
nirvana and just how do we define a green economy?
By Jeremy Wilcox
A
s with most new concepts there is no standard environmentareonadevastatingcollisioncourse–butdespite
definition of a ‘green economy’, although the United pledgingtobuildaninclusive,greenandsustainablerecovery,
Nations Environment Programme defines a green little has been done to change direction. The world must seize
economyas“afastgrowingneweconomicdevelopmentmodel thehugebenefitsofinvestingingreentechnologiesandenergy
in contrast to the existing ‘black’ economic model based on systems – this will slash emissions and create millions of new
fossil fuels… based on the knowledge of ecological economics jobs around the world.”
and green economics that aim at addressing the
interdependence of human economies and natural ecosystem, Intervention & Free Markets
and the adverse impact of human economic activities on Atkins’ assertion that the economy and environment are on
climate change and global warming.” a collision course may be far-fetched, but it addresses a key
Before progress can be made in designing a new green requirement for the creation of a new green market, namely
economicmodeltherehastobesomeconsensusonthefailings the convergence of the economy and environment. But
of the current black fossil fuel-based model. Yet there are no perhaps a more important green market development issue is
economic failings, as such. Fossil fuels cannot be blamed for the relationship between free markets and intervention.
thesub-primeinduced‘creditcrunch’,yetitisthecreditcrunch In the aftermath of the failing financial markets – which
and resulting global economic downturn that is being used as somegovernmentshaveblamedonafailureofthefreemarket
the catalyst for changing the economy model – these same governments have
from black to green.
The justification of a new green
hastened to argue that the new green
There is no rational economic
economy will be in the millions
economy has to be driven by
argument to move from a black to
green economic model. After all, the
of jobs created in the green &
government interventionism. The
justification of a new green economy
key to a successful, wealth generating low carbon technology willbeinthemillionsofjobscreatedin
economic activity is productivity.
industries
the green and low carbon technology
Production costs are lower in the industries, and interventionist policies
technologically proven black economy, falling further with arerequired,arguesomegovernments,becauseofthereduced
energy saving efficiencies, than in the subsidy-dependent and role, and stature, of the financial sector in the post-recession
largely technologically unproven green economy. Rather, the economy.
rationale for a green model is climate change. But to be a Launching the UK government’s New Industry, New Jobs
viable model this has to be justified economically. report in April, business secretary Lord Mandelson justified an
Given the opportunity at April’s G20 summit in London to interventionist approach, reasoning, “If the markets fail or
present a green economic stimulus, word leaders left green don’t work efficiently, government has a role to play,” but
groups disappointed. Environmental commitments were arguedthis“doesnotimplyafundamentalchangeinourview
limitedtothelasttwoparagraphsofthesummitcommuniqué oftherelationshipbetweenthemarketandthestate,”adding,
and consisted only of vague promises to create “sustainable “The government’s job is not to substitute for markets or
economies”. The communiqué stated that the goal of fiscal displacetheprivatesector.Wearenotintobailing-outthepast,
stimulus packages would be to build “resilient, sustainable, but removing the barriers to investing in the future.”
andgreenrecovery”andcommittedtheG20to“thetransition The barriers to investing in the future (green) economy are
towards clean, innovative, resource efficient, low carbon essentially the uncertainty of the future and the confidence in
technologies and infrastructure”. The communiqué further the past (i.e. fossil fuels). In order to create a more level
stated, “We reaffirm our commitment to address the threat of investmentfieldbetweenpastandfuturemodels,governments
irreversibleclimatechange,basedontheprincipleofcommon are keen to present ‘green new deals’ whereby financial
but differentiated responsibilities, and to reach agreement at incentives are provided to direct investment into new green
the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in technologies for generation and transport, that in turn create
December 2009.” jobsinthenewinfrastructurerequiredtoreduceemissionsand
According to Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy grow the economy.
Atkins, G20 leaders stand accused of “short-changing the Commentingontheurgencyofthenewgreendealaheadof
planet,” adding, “The economic system and the global the G20 summit, Pavan Sukhedev, a Managing Director with
98 worldPower2009
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