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The 'green race' to win back the environment

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The 'green race' to win back the environment

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Isabel Marques da Silva, euronews:

Almost 200 world leaders will meet in Durban, South Africa, to discuss the challenge of climate change. The future of the Kyoto Protocol, how to finance the Green Climate Fund and perspectives for a green economy are some of the topics on the agenda. With us is Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. Thank you for accepting euronews’ invitation. There is some political indifference to these challenges in climate change. How can Durban address this problem?

Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International:

The only way we are going to get out of the current financial crisis is to re-image and re-invent our global economy moving forward. And part of that solution is to actually invest seriously in the green economy, which has the potential to grow our economies, but more importantly to generate millions of new decent jobs in an new green economy. So, it is a bit disappointing, but i think is shortsighted on the part of political leaders at the moment.

euronews:

The Kyoto Protocol that is going to expire in 2012, might have an extension until 2015. It is being discussed and it is being pushed by European Union, Australia, Norway. Do you believe that in Durban important steps will be taken towards keeping Kyoto Protocol alive until we get a new global treaty?

Kumi Naidoo:

The Kyoto Protocol is a commitment made by rich developed countries, bearing in mind that it was developed countries that actually contributed to this sort of climate crisis that we have historically. Given that is the only sort of legal climate arrangement, binding agreement we have, it is critically important that we actually ensure that Durban is not the burial ground for the Kyoto Protocol. It was agreed in Cancun already that there will be a second commitment period and in fact there should not be a gap between the first and a second commitment period and we hope that Durban will fulfill that. What countries that are thinking of killing the Kyoto Protocol must realise is that there is much more at stake than just the climate negotiations because if Kyoto dies in Durban it will be a severe blow to multi-lateralism and the whole UN system.

euronews:

We (hear) Japan, Canada and Russia saying that China and India have to commit more because they are polluting more now, they are growing faster. That side says maybe the United States should also commit more. There has been this division between the north and the south, the developed and the emerging economies, that are in different stages. How can we bridge these two positions?

Kumi Naidoo:

We have lived in a world with too much division between north and south, east and west, developing and developed. Climate change presents us with a very stark fact: we either get this right as rich and poor countries acting together, however challenging and painful the changes that we might need to make (would be), and we get it right and protect all our children and grandchildren and future generations. If we get it wrong, it’s true that poor countries are the ones that are paying the first and most brutal price now as a result of climate impacts, but ultimately it will impact on the whole world. The challenge will be whether individual countries can rise above national parochialism and national self interest and recognize that ultimately it is in every nation’s interest that we act decisively and fast because time is fast running out to avert catastrophic climate change.

euronews:

But despite political willingness on this, there is also the question of money all the time. European Union says it has already mobilized 6 billion dollars from the 30 billion dollars of the Green Climate Fund. But this is only until 2012. Is this enough and what steps should be taken in terms of financing, maybe with private investment as well, in the future?

Kumi Naidoo:

Many people are saying now that if governments, particulary in the rich countries, were able to mobilize virtually overnight not millions, not billions but trillions of dollars to bailout the banks, the bankers and the bonuses, surely if they exercised a fraction of that political will we can raise the 100 billion, which was committed in Copenhagen, from 2020 onwards, to help poor countries with adaptation and mitigation. In the G20, civil society organizations like Greenpeace and others went with a very constructive financing proposals. We talked about a financial transaction tax, which could generate close to 50, 60 billion a year – if there was political will to make it happen – for movement of currency across borders. And not only does it generate finance for the Green Climate Fund potentially, but also actually having this tax will make sure that the financial crisis that we are experiencing now will be less likely because it will prevent the wild speculation that happens by financial institutions.

euronews:

There have been also talks about this green economy, to boost growth and create jobs. Could you give me some examples of areas and projects that could already start and give this boost and a sign of confidence to the people?

Kumi Naidoo:

We have seen a massive leap in investment in renewable energy, we are seeing more and more green jobs being created now. In Germany, for example, nuclear – which thankfully is being phased out – generates 30 thousand jobs. The renewable energy sector aparently wins, because without the same subsidies, is generating 300 thousand jobs now. The countries that will win in the future are the countries that get ahead of the green technology curve. As some people say, forget about the arms race, forget about the space race. The only race that will matter in the future is which countries win the green race.