This weekend leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies gather for the G20 summit. Gary Gardner and Michael Renner, Worldwatch Institute senior researchers, believe the G20 summit should discuss creating a Global Green Deal.
The strategic objectives of the GGD, as outlined by Gardner and Renner, are transitioning to a renewable energy economy, launching an efficiency revolution, investing in green infrastructure, and working for a fairer distribution of wealth.
In a recent opinion piece, Al Gore discussed his “five part plan” for the U.S. to produce 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years. The plan consists of the following:
* Government incentives to construct concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the Mid-West, and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots.
* Construct a national smart grid for renewable energy electricity, which would cost $400 billion over ten years. This is a small sum considering that American businesses lose $120 billion annually from “cascading failures that are endemic to our current balkanized and antiquated electricity lines.”
* Help the U.S. auto industry, including “innovative new startup companies” to create hybrids that can run on renewable electricity.
* Retrofit buildings across the country because about 40 percent of carbon emissions in the U.S. come from buildings.
* Price carbon in the U.S. and lead the world’s efforts to replace Kyoto treaty next year with a “more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation.”
How to pay for a GGD
Reducing military spending makes the number one spot in Gardner and Renner ways to pay for a GGD. In 2004, world military spending was $1.3 trillion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The U.S. spends about $700 billion a year maintaining its global military bases, fighting a two-front war, and maintaining its nuclear weapons stockpile. As Gardner and Renner put it, “In a world with no major power conflicts, a substantial portion of these budgets would be better dedicated to a Global Green Deal.”
Trade in the world’s currencies in 2007 was $3.7 daily, according to Gardner and Renner. A Tobin tax, name for James Tobin, the Nobel laureate economist who created the concept, would reduce the amount of daily current trading. Reducing the daily amount would “restore each nation’s ability to control its own currency, as well as generate revenue,” as an article on the Global Exchange website states.
Subsides for fossil fuels are estimated to be $150-$250 billion per year. If the subsides for oil were removed, they could be invested in a GGD. The Sustainable Energy Coalition’s 2001 report titled “Sensible Energy Policies” detailed the types of subsides oil companies receive, and recommended each subsidy be eliminated by Congress.
A mandate for change in the U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama will take office in January with a mandate to bring change to the U.S. The Environmental Defense Fund’s Transition Report details the results of research conducted by the group on election night when 600 people were interviewed after voting. More than three-quarters of the people interviewed said climate change needs to be addressed, and 40 percent said creating jobs by investing in renewable should be the top priority of the president.
Thirty-five percent of the people interviewed said the Congress should pass a plan to stimulate the economy by investing in renewable energy. Two-thirds said that companies should pay for the pollution they create, and the funds generated should be invested in renewable energy. The majority of the interviewees believed the best way to create jobs and stimulate the economy is through investing in building clean energy product.