Green Growth: possible and necessary

On June 18-19 the G20 convenes in Los Cabos, Mexico. And on June 20-22 there is “Rio+20”, the Sustainability Conference of the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro.

The agendas of these very different meetings share a common focus: the global necessity of “green growth”. What the world in the 21st century most urgently needs is green growth – that is to say, growth aimed at the transition toward a sustainable economy.

Worldwide we see an increasing diversity of emission trade systems (ETS). The EU was here first, but it is urgent to speed up the efforts to boost the price of CO2 , especially through generous so-called set-aside schemes. The damage for energy-intensive firms will be more than balanced by investments in new technologies directed at a more energy-efficient economy. Much is already available, ready for take-off! But first we need to raise the price of CO2; and invest the money that becomes available in green growth.

It is not very likely to happen that the countries represented at the two meetings will agree on a concrete “Green Growth Deal”. The differences of interest and opinion are still too large. For example, think about which countries have caused the rise of temperature of the earth and are thus responsible for the problem of climate change. But the significance of the G20 summit and Rio+20 is not exclusively determined by the acts of the representatives of countries.

Especially in Rio de Janeiro representatives of the private sector and civil society will attend in great numbers. Over the past 20 years, the main impetus of the movement for sustainable development has shifted from the public sector to the private sector and civil society, which wield an increasing amount of influence. – Paul van Seters is professor of globalisation and sustainable development at Tilburg university in the Netherlands. Rudd Lubbers is a former Dutch Prime Minister.

Post published in: Environment

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