UNGA Second Committee Discusses Climate Change and Green Growth

© UNGA26 October 2009: The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) participated in a panel discussion on “Green growth and sustainable development” on 26 October 2009, focusing on how climate change mitigation can be supported by and contribute to economic growth. The event was organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) under the auspices of the Second Committee.

Carsten Staur, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, stressed that the current economic crisis opened a “window of opportunity” for sustainable investment. Tim Jackson, professor at the University of Surrey, recommended gearing investment toward low-carbon, resource-efficient models that create employment, support communities and contribute to human flourishing. Rae Kwon Chung, chief climate negotiator of the Republic of Korea, suggested adjusting the current price structures in line with ecological costs, thus supporting growth based on ecological efficiency instead of market efficiency. Robert Pollin, professor at the University of Massachusetts, described clean energy investments as a form of insurance policy against the effects of climate change, and underscored the importance of carbon tax or cap-and-trade auctions, and of mobilizing private credit markets as long-term options.

Pavan Sukhdev, Project Leader for the “Green Economy” initiative of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), outlined the objectives of the initiative: reviewing the world economy; creating new and decent jobs and protecting the vulnerable; reducing carbon dependency, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity; and eliminating persistent poverty. Park In-kook (Republic of Korea), Committee Chairperson, noted that green growth depends on encouraging a shift towards less resource-intensive production and consumption patterns, supporting public investment in sustainable infrastructure, and providing a combination of incentives and regulation to increase private investment in renewable energy. In ensuing discussion, it was noted that combating poverty is a core component in green investment, and that green growth may not necessarily require advanced technology. [UNGA press release] [Meeting information]