Does green matter?

Henk Manschot, a Professor of Ethics and Sustainable Development at the Kosmopolis Institute in the Netherlands, shocked a global gathering at a conference in the Hague late last year when he revealed how `global footprint’ increases as people move up the human development index. As people consume resources to go up on the index, their ecological footprint stretches on additional hectares of land on the planet. 

Though global climate negotiations have already hit a road block, world leaders are taking a detour to charter a `green economy’ pathway aimed at getting the planet back on track. 

In its simplest expression, a green economy is low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive. In a green economy, growth in income and employment should be driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The crucial question remains: “isn’t `green economy’ pathway more appropriate for the debt-ridden western economies that have the onus of generating more jobs for their disgruntled youth?” 

It has been estimated that transition to green prescription will cost the global economy an average annual investment of no less than US$ 1.3 trillion. One would doubt if the proposed green prescriptions will deliver a greenwash on the old `greed economy’ by innovative market mechanisms that will trade emissions for carbon credits and green technologies. Developing countries are already being lured into such a system, as the Rio+20 summit prepares itself to firm up new institutional mechanisms for a green deal. 

Back home, government’s intentions on switch to a green economy is an eyewash. Whereas it has been acknowledged that nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions is attributed to land use changes, the National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill 2011 is hinged on the inevitability of urbanization a’la land use change. Cities not only account for 75 per cent of energy consumption but 75 per cent of carbon missions as well, and for the first time in history more than half of the world population lives in urban areas. 

Bolivia, perhaps the only country that is vocal on the ambiguities of a green economy, has charged green capitalism as a distraction from the real issues that the world needs to address to realize sustainable development. It has warned that the new forms of mercantilism and speculation being proposed could further despoil nature while entrenching existing injustices. Can the same bankers, who have not been able to manage the largest financial crises, be believed to manage the planet? Your guess is as good as mine!


Original article published at

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