Wednesday, June 20, 2012

David Cameron fails to back the Green Growth Action Alliance

David Cameron, or Camoron as I have started spelling it, was in Mexico this week and witnessed the launch of a Green Growth Action Alliance, but failed to back it or mention the green economy in his keynote speech to the world's business and G20 leaders.

On Monday, the Prime Minister was at the G20 Business Summit (B20), which serves as a business advisory to G20 officials, where a Task Force on Green Growth attended by Mexican President Felipe Calderón urged Heads of State to adopt policies that will simultaneously help to green and grow the economy in environmentally, economically and socially sustainable ways.

Yet Camoron's speech made no mention of this.

The Green Growth Task Force is asking G20 governments to initiate negotiations to achieve a sustainable energy trade agreement, create a robust price on carbon through coordinated international policies, end fossil fuel subsidies and to direct a portion of carbon price revenues to support innovation in sustainable technologies.

The call to end subsidies for fossil fuels was the subject of a 24-hour "Twitter storm" begun by Stephen Fry and aimed at the G20 and Rio+20, on behalf of, which attracted over 100,000 tweets.

The Task Force also launched the Green Growth Action Alliance, whose honorary chairman is President Felipe Calderón. This new public-private partnership initiative of comprises 48 of the world’s largest energy companies, international financial institutions, and development finance institutions which aims to address the massive shortfall in financing the low carbon revolution globally.

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas’ CEO Ditlev Engel explained that it will “boost public and private investment into green infrastructure. Each year, $1 trillion is needed to deliver the necessary infrastructure and to shift us onto a low carbon path.”

To attract finance, and monitored by the World Economic Forum, the Alliance will work with existing initiatives, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), currently chaired by Germany's promotional bank KfW, and the San Giorgio Group (a policy research collaborative initiative by the Climate Policy Initiative, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Climate Policy Initiative and the United Nations Foundation.

Members of the Alliance include leading companies such as Accenture, Samsung, KfW Bankengruppe, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank Group, Vestas and Enel.

This is a powerful coalition. Again, Camoron made no comment.

Instead, in his speech he promoted trade as a way to lift developing countries out of poverty without a single reference to the green economy, or sustainable development, or the Rio+20 summit, or climate change or anything else apart from trade.

David Camoron just doesn't get it. He started his premiership giving hope to environmentalists and the green sector, and has been backsliding ever since.

Even his former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, is incredulous at the missed opportunity deriving from Number 10 and the Treasury's capitulation to pressure from a narrow body of Conservative supporters.

It's not that he's in a country which doesn't understand this stuff. Mexico is so far the only nation in the world other than the UK to have a Climate Change Act, which is similar to the UK's and was passed in April. Like the UK's it requires future governments to meet regular emissions reduction targets, but its goal is ultimately to cut the nation's carbon emissions 50% by 2050, instead of the UK's 80%. Almost one quarter (24%) of electricity must be generated from renewable sources by 2024.

Camoron has not travelled south to Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development which opens today and is being attended instead by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman.

Amongst those travelling to Mexico with the Prime Minister were Hugh Richmond, Managing Director of ENER-G Natural Power, plus representatives of Diageo, Rolls Royce, Virgin Atlantic, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Chancellor George Osborne and Trade & Investment Minister Lord Green.

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