$76 trillion in Green investments to avoid ‘Planetary Catastrophe’

July 6, 2011
Humanity is close to breaching the sustainability of Earth, and needs a technological revolution greater – and faster – than the industrial revolution to avoid “a major planetary catastrophe,” according to a new United Nations report. The report – The World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation (251 pages). The survey says $1.9 trillion per year will be needed over the next 40 years for incremental investments in green technologies. At least $1.1 trillion of that will need to be made in developing countries to meet increasing food and energy demands. Major investments will be needed worldwide in the developing and scaling up of clean energy technologies, sustainable farming and forestry techniques, climate-proofing of infrastructure, and in technologies reducing non-biological degradable waste production.  

This UN study is asking for 3% of world GDP for an accelerated conversion to green technologies,
revamping agriculture according to their agenda and tossed in poverty elimination. I see zero chance of this proposal being adopted. They are asking for 20 times more than what was rejected at Copenhagen. It is interesting to see what kinds of plans get created by the United Nations and to imagine what the world would be like if these kinds of plans actually had serious consideration.

The long lifetimes of power plants, refineries, buildings and energy infrastructure make any energy transition necessarily a long-term affair. Global replacement costs of existing fossil fuel and nuclear power infrastructure are estimated at, at least, $15 trillion–$20 trillion (between one quarter and one third of global income).

Many countries are already making efforts to foster a greener energy supply system, including through investments in energy innovation, feed-in tariffs and other price measures, and regulatory measures and efficiency standards designed to promote energy efficiency and diffusion of renewable and clean sources of energy. The Survey indicates, however, that the pace of progress of technological change is nowhere near that needed to reach the goal of full decarbonization of the global energy system by 2050.

In accelerating technological transformation to meet emissions and energy-use targets, the Survey recommends that policies and actions be guided by four key goals.

  • Improving energy efficiency in end use without expanding consumption where energy-use levels are already high
  • Supporting a broad energy technology development portfolio globally while adapting more mature technologies in specific locations
  • Supporting more extensive experimentation and discovery periods
  • Using “smart” governance and accountability strategies in energy-related technological development

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