Since the recent global financial crises, the phrase ‘green economy’ has appeared liberally in newspaper headlines, and politicians’ and CEOs’ promises. They usually mean ‘low-carbon economy’, the idea of shifting energy and infrastructure towards clean, high-tech systems. Green economy is seen as an answer to financial problems – G20 stimulus packages included ‘green’ components, hoping to improve national competitiveness and create new jobs through green technology, and wean economies off insecure and expensive fossil fuels. And it is seen as a practical way to supplement climate change conventions – you don’t need an international agreement to change economic practices that cause climate change. All very good news for Danish wind farm installers, Japanese hybrid car manufacturers, and Chinese solar panel factories. But what does the green economy mean for the developing world?
Millions of people across the developing world depend on land for their livelihoods, culture and identity — a connection that now risks being undermined by large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Three boys, probably about ten years old, are standing round a table. They are concentrating intently, jabbing at a touch screen. Suddenly there is a huge sigh of relief. They pull back and turn around, with huge grins across their faces: “Mum. Muuuuuuuuuum. Look Mum — we met the emissions reduction target!”
It is half term and I have come to check out the Science Museum’s new £4.5 million climate science exhibition, atmosphere.
So are there lessons to be learnt from this example about public engagement with climate science?
Climate change adaptation may cost US$75–100 billion per year between 2010 and 2050. Where these funds will come from, how they will be channelled and how adaptation should be achieved is still being debated. I propose part of the solution is to go micro: linking microfinance with community-based adaptation.
A first visit to a country is often the time when we ‘see’ the most, and our recent brief visit to Nepal certainly afforded some lasting impressions. High Himalayan ranges glistening in the sun contrasting with the air pollution and traffic congestion of Kathmandu; immense cultural, religious and architectural wealth side by side with acute poverty; roads without streetlights or traffic lights, and shops in the city centre lit by candles, (power cuts were increased from 12 to 14 hours per day during our visit).
The 5th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change, takes place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 24 to 31 March 2011. Saleemul Huq will be keeping us updated from the conference in a series of daily video logs.