Thursday, April 2, 2009

Flannery to G20: economic recovery must include green growth

By ABC News Online's Nic MacBean

Posted Thu Apr 2

Former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery says if the G20 meeting of world leaders in London does not make a decision on further measures to combat climate change, there will be an even bigger economic crisis.

Mr Flannery is one of the key signatories to an open letter from the Copenhagen Climate Council to the G20, calling on the nations involved to invest in green growth or risk handing huge risks to future generations.

"We believe that this year we are at an historic crossroads. Either we establish a new more effective global climate treaty to tackle the climate problem or we jeopardise our common future," the letter said.

"Either we invest in new infrastructure and technologies that will help our economic strength and resilience, or we choose the infrastructure and technologies of the past."

An agreement to sign a new climate change agreement later in the year is one of the decisions that could be made at the G20 summit, but it is likely to be dominated by discussions on whether further coordinated stimulus measures are needed to help lift the world out of the economic slowdown.

The letter, which is co-signed by business figures and conservation groups, says economic growth cannot be treated as a separate issue to environmental stability.

"You meet under the headline of 'Stability, growth, jobs'," it said.

"We, too, fully recognise the importance of these pillars, but we also believe it is vital to accept that protecting the planet's eco-systems and resources is a precondition for reaching these goals."

The Council says the G20 meeting should agree that low-emissions technology should be included in recovery packages and acknowledge the critical importance of establishing an effective global climate treaty.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said in an interview with the AFP news agency yesterday that it was too late to just talk about lowering emissions.

"The first lesson about what not to do is not to have a situation where an agreement may look good on paper but it's not going to be implemented," she said in Bonn, Germany where she was attending a climate change conference.

"Unless we get action from all nations, particularly from our major emitters and our major economies, we will not start to reduce the growth in emissions."

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