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EU Commissioner for Climate Action Calls for Redefining the Concept of Growth

EU27 February 2012: In an article titled “Let's All Grow Sustainably,” published by the European Commission, Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and a member of the UN High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, stresses the need to redfine the concept of growth, including by tackling climate change, as part of a new sustainable growth model.

In the article, Hedegaard calls for a more sustainable growth model to secure the future of generations to come. She urges the EU, Brazil, and other countries to use the opportunity offered by the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or  Rio+20) to kick off a global transition towards a sustainable growth model for the 21st century.

Lauding Brazil's social and economic achievements in recent years, she underscores that limits must not be set on growth as more people need "to be included in the global future." Noting that, by 2030, the world will need 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more water, she urges intelligent, climate-friendly growth that will produce more with less input. Highlighting that “different countries with different economies will have to do different things,” she underlines the need for more efficient use of resources, including by emerging economies.

Hedegaard further draws attention to Europe's current emissions reductions, citing binding targets for emissions reductions and renewables, a price on carbon, and energy efficiency measures. She underscores that Europe is looking into “taxing less what we earn and more what we burn.” She notes that binding targets are successful in assisting governments to keep sustainability on the agenda, and highlights the importance of the price signal, which furthers “innovation and investment by creating a permanent incentive to reduce emissions.” On the price signal, she notes the UN High-Level Panel on Sustainability recommendation that calls on governments to institute price signals that will guide the consumption and investment decisions of households, businesses, and the public sector.

The Commissioner also calls for smart ways to institute the polluter pays principle, including through innovative pricing mechanisms and carbon markets, an approach which would also help finance sustainable development activities in developing countries.

Reiterating that sustainable development need not occur at the expense of economic development, she describes sustainability as “maintaining and improving our quality of life while ensuring pollution does not undermine economic growth.” [Publication: Let's All Grow Sustainably]