In many cases, due to this rigidity, the inertia of moving along the brown economy path is likely to continue for some time. How should the move towards a green economy take such inertia into account?
2. How to ensure that green policies are not used as a pretext for trade protectionism? This report has identified the positive role trade can play in facilitating the transfer and deployment of environmental technologies across countries. It has also cautioned against using green economy policies as a pretext for trade protectionism. Practical solutions are needed to manage emerging conflicts. In some countries, “buy local” can arguably be a green economy policy, as reduced need for transport may reduce the ecological footprint. However, this type of policy can have adverse impact on the exports of other countries, including those that need foreign exchange to import goods that are essential for reducing poverty and improving living standards.
Another emerging conflict surfaces because countries that provide state support to green economic sectors such as renewable energy technologies give domestic enterprises a competitive edge in the export of these technologies. The question arises: Is it possible to ensure fair trade, while recognising the need for state interventions in jump-starting the transition to a green economy?
3. How to measure progress in the transition to a green economy? The various chapters of this report have used a wide range of indicators to highlight:
■ The extent of the challenges, for example, levels of CO2
emissions and the number of people lacking access to energy;
■ The extent of the opportunities, such as the size of the market for more resource efficient and low-carbon technologies;
■ Policies established, such as renewable targets; and,
■ Policy outcomes, such as the rate of recycling achieved, as well as the material and energy intensity of production and consumption.
Although different sectors will need different matrices to measure progress towards greening, at a national economy level there is a need for aggregates to inform policy making. At the moment, such aggregates are not fully developed or agreed upon by the statistical community. Further research is needed on what are
the limited number of indicators that can measure the progress countries have made in transforming their economic structure from brown to green, including more adequate indicators for measuring economic prosperity and wealth creation beyond GDP.
Towards a green economy This report marks a first step in outlining key issues for moving towards a green economy at a national and global level.
In summary, it has found that a green
economy values and invests in natural capital. Ecosystem services are better conserved, leading to improved safety nets and household incomes for poor rural communities. Ecologically friendly farming methods improve yields significantly for subsistence farmers. Improvements in freshwater access and sanitation, and innovations for non-grid energy (solar electricity, biomass stoves, etc.), add to the suite of green economy strategies, which can also help alleviate poverty.
A green economy substitutes clean energy and low- carbon technologies for fossil fuels, which addresses climate change, creates decent jobs and reduces import dependencies. New technologies promoting energy and resource efficiency provide growth opportunities in new directions, offsetting brown economy job losses. Resource efficiency in both energy and materials use becomes a driving proposition, be it in better waste management, more public transportation, green buildings or less waste along the food chain.
Regulations, standards and targets are important to
provide direction. However, developing countries must be allowed to move at their own speed, respecting their development objectives, circumstances and constraints. Developed nations have a key role to play in building skills and capacity in developing countries and in creating an international market and legal infrastructure for a green economy.
Enabling conditions have to be managed and adequate finance provided for a successful transition to a green economy. Both are eminently achievable. Environmentally and socially harmful subsidies are a deterrent and should be phased out. However, in select circumstances and over defined periods, rational use of subsidies can facilitate the transition to a green economy. Taxes and other market- based instruments can be used to stimulate the necessary investment and innovation for funding the transition. The scale of financing required for a green economy transition is large, but it can be mobilised by smart public policy and innovative financing mechanisms.
A green economy can generate as much growth and employment as a brown economy, and outperforms
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