Top global economists from the United Nations Environment Program and Deutsche Bank overnight launched a plan for a "Green New Deal", echoing President Roosevelt's "New Deal" to work America out of the Great Depression, to tackle the economic crisis and the climate crisis together.
Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne called on the Rudd Government to embrace the plan which would see a massive investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative transport and forest protection, creating high quality, permanent jobs in a thriving, prosperous, green economy.
Senator Milne said "The economic meltdown and the planetary meltdown are in many ways two sides of the same coin.
"The best path to recovery is to use the same solutions to benefit both crises simultaneously, boosting our economy by breaking through the capacity constraints holding back the transition to a zero emissions economy."
UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, notes that logging costs the world over $2.5 trillion a year in lost ecosystem services such as clean water and air, stopping soil erosion and storing carbon. This is more than the $1.5 trillion the economic crisis has so far cost.
Questioning by Senator Milne in Estimates hearings this week revealed that the main constraint to rolling out solar panels and energy efficiency in Australia is the lack of capacity in the workforce. We do not have enough trained installers and energy auditors.
"Governments and industry in Australia are worrying about job losses in the coal and forestry sectors while scratching their heads about how to deal with workforce capacity constraints for rolling out renewable energy and energy efficiency.
"It is clear that we need a major coordinated investment in education and training to build capacity in the new, clean industries while helping those who currently rely on the old, dirty industries move into the clean future.
"If we try to deal with all of our problems separately, we will find ourselves hitting a host of new problems. If we take a coordinated approach, we will find coordinated solutions.
"The Greens have long advocated taking this coordinated approach which the UN called for last night. Internationally, the wealth of opportunities presented by the need to respond to the climate challenge has long been recognised, counteracting the usual shrill claims by vested interests that any change to business as usual threatens prosperity.
"It's time for Australia to get on board and build a new, green, zero emissions economy."
Contact: Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562