Climate policies have big pay-off, report reveals

Posted: 4 November 2009

As G20 Finance Ministers prepare to meet in St. Andrews, UK, on 6-7 November a new report has scored some 100 climate-related policies to show just how successful or damaging they are. The report shows that well planned climate-friendly policies not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring environmental benefits, they also boost and diversity the economy.

The report, carried out by Ecofys and Germanwatch for WWF and E3G, evaluates climate policies of countries accounting for around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions, identifying best and worst examples and lessons learned.

The top places in the report were given to an "Efficiency in buildings" programme implemented by the German government and a "Feed-in tariff for renewable electricity" initiative, also in Germany. The latter guarantees a producer of renewable energy a fixed feed-in tariff for 20 years. Germany's buildings programme reduces emissions, creates jobs in the construction sector, and offers broad scope for replication in others countries.

Best climate policies
Best climate policies
Overview of best climate policies.Click for full-size image.
A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Mexico has shown that green solutions have strong potential to increase comfort and quality of life - important considerations for fast-growing, emerging economies. China's programme of targets for the 1000 most energy-intensive enterprises led to permanent improvements in energy management and efficiency in these companies.

Bad policies

"This report shows that governments which implement green and climate friendly solutions will win and take a leadership position in the world," Kim Carstensen, the leader of WWF's Global Climate Initiative said.

"Governments which don't invest in low carbon solutions will lose in the end and their voters will turn away from them," he said. "We call on the G20 to come up with a strategy to drive investment in the green economy." "Not investing in low carbon solutions nowadays is simply short-sighted." The report also exposes a number of bad policies, very often in the same countries where the good policies were implemented, which both fail to deliver economic benefits and block the way to a low carbon future. These include measures such as subsidizing of local mining, preferential treatment of energy-intensive industries and lack of comprehensive water management.

Nick Mabey, CEO of E3G, said: "G20 leaders agreed at Pittsburgh to a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth. That commitment will be in vain unless it is backed by concrete investments in a low carbon recovery. One-off green stimulus packages aren't enough. What investors are looking for is long-term, legal and loud policy signals that governments are serious about the low carbon transition. Copenhagen is the place to start."

WWF estimates that industrialized governments will need to provide financing in the order of US$160 billion for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, especially to those most vulnerable to climate change.

While single policies make a difference, there is also urgent need for more policy integration and overall coherence, WWF says. That is why it is calling on all developed countries to create their own Zero Carbon Action Plans.

To download the full report click here

To download a shorter briefing note click here