April 1, 2009

Economic Stimulus Must Be More ‘Green’

The environmental group Greenpeace said Tuesday that financially hard hit nations are not including enough green investments in their economic stimulus plans.

Gerd Liepold, executive director of the group, said simply stimulating consumption was the incorrect response to the economic crisis, and called on governments to focus more on the "climate crisis."

"At this moment, because of this economic crisis, we'll have a lot of stimulus packages, a lot of state-sponsored economic activities," the Greenpeace leader told the AFP.

"The wrong responses are to stimulate consumption for the purpose of stimulating consumption."

Governments should instead halt subsidies to industries that pollute or emit planet-warming greenhouse gases.

"While the headlines are dominated by the economic crisis, we should simply not forget that we are in the middle of a climate crisis," he said.

Liepold called out Germany in particular for its subsidies aimed at bolstering the auto industry.

"In my own country, Germany, you are now paid a premium if you destroy your old car just to buy a new one, and it's been sold as a green stimulus package," he said, adding that clean energy investments would create more jobs, more quickly, than investments in polluting industries.

Guruswamy Ananthapadmanabhan, Greenpeace's international program director, told the AFP that less than 0.8 percent of Britain's stimulus package would go toward "any kind of green investment."

Although China's economic stimulus package included some environmentally friendly initiatives, it is too soon to tell how effective they will be, according to Liepold.

"We believe that (China's) stimulus package has some positive signals in terms of green investment. However, it's not specific enough to make a clear statement of how green is it."


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