UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former US vice president Al Gore have called on the world to use economic stimulus urgently needed to tackle the global economic crisis to launch a long term green revolution.
"What we need is both stimulus and long term investments that accomplish two objectives simultaneously with one global economic policy response a policy that addresses our urgent and immediate economic and social needs and that launches a new green global economy," they wrote in a joint opinion piece in the Financial Times of London.
"In short, we need to make 'growing green' our mantra."
Warning that continuing to pour trillions of US dollars into carbon-based infrastructure and fossil fuel subsidies would be like investing in sub prime real estate, the trigger for the present crisis, the two statesmen said eliminating the $300 billion in annual global fossil fuel subsidies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as six per cent and would add to global gross domestic product.
"Leaders everywhere, notably in the US and China, are realising that green is not an option but a necessity for recharging their economies and creating jobs," they wrote.
They urged all governments to adopt coordinated green stimulus elements, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, mass transit, new smart electricity grids and reforestation.
They noted that in much of the developing world, governments do not have the option to borrow or print money to cushion the devastating economic blows, and industrialised nations must therefore reach beyond their borders and invest immediately in those cost-effective programmes that boost the productivity of the poorest.
"This means increasing overseas development assistance this year. It means strengthening social safety nets. It means investing in agriculture in developing countries by getting seeds, tools, sustainable agricultural practices and credit to smallholder farmers so they can produce more food and get it to local and regional markets," they wrote.
As the third plank of the programme it is essential that a robust climate deal be reached in Copenhagen in December to replace the Kyoto Protocol limiting the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialised nations, which expires in 2012.