The United Nations Environment Programme has published a policy brief titled, “Global Green New Deal.” UNEP argues that the multiple crises that we currently face can be compared with those faced by FDR when he launched his “New Deal” in the face of the Great Depression.
FDR’s New Deal included a series of wide-ranging programs to provide employment and social security, reform tax policies and business practices, and stimulate the economy. The Global Green New Deal proposes similar leadership at the global level, while addressing the environment.
UNEP argues that while governments are devising new ways to solve the present crisis and prevent future ones, they should take the opportunity to address the impending crisis and sweeping impact of climate change.
One of the rationales UNEP provides for its GGND proposals is that dedication of even a small part of the enormous fiscal resources being released could achieve a critical mass of investment and employment to initiate sustainable environment programs.
UNEP presents three primary objectives for its GGND: (1) Make a major contribution to reviving the world economy, saving and creating jobs, and protecting vulnerable groups; (2) Reduce carbon deficiency and ecosystem degradation, putting economics on a path to clean and stable development; and (3) Further sustainable and inclusive growth, and end extreme poverty by 2015.
The policy brief suggests that a substantial portion of government “stimulus” funds around the world be directed toward creating a critical mass of infrastructure needed for an environmentally sustainable economy. Projects might include (1) retrofitting public buildings to become energy efficient, (2) greening and weatherizing homes and offices, (3) developing energy-efficient less-polluting mass-transportation modes, (4) using “greener” vehicles, (5) developing renewable energy infrastructures, and (6) investing in sustainable agriculture and freshwater systems, in particular in developing countries.
Some countries – at the national level – are already meeting or exceeding the one per cent suggested target.
For example, Republic of Korea, according to the report, is already spending $36 billion on “Green New Deal” projects, or around 3 per cent of GDP. The ROK claims that one million jobs will be created.
“The energy conservation and green building investments that form part of ROK’s Green New Deal amount to 0.5 per cent of GDP and the full, low carbon strategy accounts for 1.2 per cent of GDP,” says the report. The ROK will spend $7 billion on mass transit and railways over the next three years and $5.8 billion in energy conservation in villages and schools – 170,000 jobs
China, frequently a used by some as a punching bag on environmental issues, is expected to spend $140 billion or around 2 per cent of its GDP (about a quarter of the nations entire stimulus package) on green investments.
The report cites a study by the Peterson Institute of International Economics and the World Resources Institute that estimates that green energy investments in the United States could save the economy an average of $450 million a year for every $1 billion invested.
And that every $1 billion of government spending in this area will create around 30,000 job years and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by close to 600,000 tons from 2012-2020.