Speech to open the OECD’s second annual Green Investment Financing Forum – the GIFF – with Al Gore. This event, which is part of Climate Week Paris, is a key staging post on our journey to COP21 at the end of the year.
Climate policy and competitiveness issues have created a new need for international co-ordination, beyond the scope of our current frameworks. There is no need to trade economic growth for environmental stringency. Environmentally stringent policies are an incentive for greater efficiencies which leading edge companies can easily achieve.
Green is not only compatible with growth; green is a source of growth. Sweden was one of the first countries to understand this and showed tremendous leadership when it introduced the world’s first carbon tax in 1991, amidst the economic crisis. Yet there is so much more that can be done to foster a fast transition to a low-carbon world whilst creating the competitive economies of the future.
By 2050, the world’s population will have risen to 9 billion. By then, the demand for water will have risen by 55% and demand for food by 60%. And on top of this, a world economy that is four times larger than today could be using up to 80% more energy.
Water security is one of the greatest challenges we face today, yet the situation has never looked more perilous. By 2050 the OECD Environmental Outlook projects that nearly 4 billion people will live in river basins under severe water stress, and global nitrogen effluents from wastewater are projected to grow by 180%. Whilst, over the same period, global demand for water is expected to grow by 55%.
This Initiative was created following the OECD’s commitment at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille in 2012 to spearhead robust economic and evidence-based analysis, tailored policy dialogues, and multi-stakeholder consultation in support of better water governance.
The G20 needs to go structural, social, and green! With fiscal and monetary policy room nearly exhausted, structural reforms are the best choices, sometimes the only choice. The OECD battle cry in this regard has been unchanged since 2008: “go structural!”.
As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approach their expiry date, we must focus our efforts on ensuring a brighter, more inclusive and sustainable future for all. We face a plethora of common issues: growing inequalities; changing consumption patterns and population dynamics; increasing natural resource scarcity; and ongoing illicit financial flows.
Twenty years ago climate change was viewed as just an environmental issue. Today it is squarely an economic issue. Climate change poses significant risks to our economic systems that could result in very large damages. To mitigate these risks we need to radically transform our economies and societies to stop global warming.
Advancing green growth is one of the most urgent challenges of our time. We need to use all of our knowledge to bring the private sector on board. If we fail to do this, we will fail to provide our citizens with adequate water, transport and energy infrastructure, and cause disastrous harm to our environment, said OECD Secretary-General