Breaking Down the Barriers to a
UNEP Launches Year Book 2008 at
its 10th Special Session of the Governing Council/Global
Ministerial Environment Forum in Monaco 20-22
Monaco, 20 February 2008-An
emerging Green Economy is glimpsed in the latest United
Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Year Book as
growing numbers of companies embrace environmental
policies and investors pump hundreds of billions of
dollars into cleaner and renewable energies.
Climate change, as documented in
the Year Book, is increasingly changing the global
environment from the melting of permafrost and glaciers
to extreme weather events.
But it is also beginning to change
the mind-sets, policies and actions of corporate heads,
financiers and entrepreneurs as well as leaders of
organized labour, governments and the United Nations
Increasingly, combating climate
change is being perceived as an opportunity rather than
a burden and a path to a new kind of prosperity as
opposed to a brake on profits and employment, the new
The UNEP Year Book 2008 says the
emerging green economy is also driving invention,
innovation and the imagination of engineers on a scale
perhaps not witnessed since the industrial revolution of
more than two centuries ago.
It includes the growing interest in
novel 'geo-engineering' projects such as giant carbon
dioxide (C02) collectors that absorb greenhouse gases
from the air rather like trees do during photosynthesis.
"Based on technology used in fish
tank filters and developed by scientists from Colombia
University's Earth Institute, this method called 'air
capture'.can collect the C02 at the location of the
ideal geological deposits for storage," says the report.
Meanwhile scientists in Iceland and
elsewhere are looking at injecting C02 into that
country's abundant basalt rocks where it is claimed the
pollutant reacts to form inert limestone.
Similar "sequestration rocks" exist
in geological formations across much of the world and
may provide a safe and long term disposal option for the
main greenhouse gas emissions.
Elsewhere, scientists are helping
to unravel both the uncertainties and the opportunities
posed by the enormous quantities of methane trapped in
the sea bed and in arctic permafrost.
As a greenhouse gas methane is 25
times more potent than CO2 so the possibility of
dramatic increases in methane emissions from these
deposits is a global warming 'wildcard' - a growing
source of concern.
At the same time methane hydrates
are a potentially large stockpile of clean-burning fuel,
if ways can be found of mining them safely and
Despite a great deal of activity
and action, formidable challenges remain if all these
fledgling transformations are to be sustained and
embedded in the global economy over the coming years and
Barriers include subsidies that
favour fossil fuels over cleaner energies; tariff and
trade regimes that make cleaner technologies more
expensive and the risk-averse lending patterns of banks
and other financial institutions when it comes to solar
and wind power loans for poorer communities, the new
The Year Book's findings were
presented today at the opening of the largest gathering
of environment ministers since the climate convention
meeting in Indonesia late last year which gave birth to
the Bali Road Map.
The Road Map is the climate
negotiation agreement scheduled to be completed by the
climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 in
order to deliver a post 2012 climate regime.
The ministers, joined by senior
figures from the worlds of business, organized labour,
science and civil society, are attending UNEP's
Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum
under the theme "Mobilizing Finance for the Climate
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary
General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "Hundreds of
billions of dollars are now flowing into renewable and
clean energy technologies and trillions more dollars are
waiting in the wings looking to governments for a new
and decisive climate regime post 2012 alongside the
creative market mechanisms necessary to achieve this."
"Formidable hurdles remain as to
whether these funds will ultimately seek out new,
climate-friendly investments for the future or whether
they will seek the lowest common denominator by flowing
into the polluting technologies of the past," he said.
"Designing an attractive, creative
and equitable investment landscape which rewards those
willing to invest in tomorrow's economy today is the
challenge before ministers here in Monaco and the
challenge for the international community over the next
two years in the run up to Copenhagen," said Mr Steiner.
"However I am optimistic that we
can shift gears to a Green Economy. If humans can go to
the Moon; submarines sent under the Arctic; liver and
heart transplants perfected; the mysteries of the human
genome deciphered and tiny nano-machines designed then
managing a transition to a low carbon society must be
within humanity's grasp and intellect," he added.
Some Key Findings
The findings here are based on the
UNEP Year Book 2008 with some additional supporting
facts and figures from documents prepared by UNEP for
Responsible Investing Takes
The UNEP Year Book, an annual
report requested by ministers, underlines some of the
elements of a Green Economy which are already falling
Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR) reporting including environmental concerns is now
found among corporations in over 90 countries with the
number of such statements mushrooming from virtually
zero in the early 1990s to well over 2,000 now.
. The Investor Network on Climate
Change, launched in November 2003, now has some 50
institutional investors with assets of over $3 trillion.
. The Principles for Responsible
Investment, jointly facilitated by UNEP's Finance
Initiative and the UN Global Compact in 2006, now has
275 institutions with $13 trillion of assets.
Many companies now perceive that
'going' Green also improves their bottom line. The Year
Book 2008 underlines a study by the investment bank
A survey of companies in six
sectors-ranging from mining and energy to food and
media-indicates that those with pioneering
environmental, social and governance strategies are
out-performing the general stock market by 25 per cent.
Over 70 per cent out-perform their
peers in similar sectors, the Year Book 2008 notes.
Meanwhile a survey of some 150
companies with CSR strategies in the United States as
well as France, Germany and the United Kingdom
underlines corporations' growing environmental
Cutting greenhouse gas emissions
and boosting energy efficiency ranked number one among
54 per cent of those questioned followed by recycling,
52 per cent and waste reduction, 27 per cent.
Bottom of the list are 'making
shipping and transport more efficient and eco-friendly,
eight per cent; environmental education and research,
seven per cent and supporting employees use of
alternative transportation, six per cent.
Industrial Emission Reductions
Meanwhile, some of the globe's most
carbon-intensive industries are leading the way in
publicly disclosing their carbon footprint under an
eight year-old initiative called the Carbon Disclosure
Disclosure is seen as one powerful
route towards companies taking responsibility and acting
to reduce their emissions.
The Project, aimed also at
empowering shareholders to better understand the current
and future economic risks facing the companies they
support, estimates that:-
. Close to 80 per cent of the
Financial Times 500 corporations are disclosing their
. Over three quarters of those who
are disclosing such information are now also
implementing greenhouse gas reductions via direct
emissions reductions or via the emerging carbon markets.
This is up from nearly half the year before.
Interestingly the highest rate of
achievement in terms of carbon disclosure is among the
carbon-intensive industries such as metals, mining and
steel sectors alongside oil and gas and the power
However the Year Book 2008
indicates that despite these promising steps, more needs
to be achieved.
A survey by Innovest, a research
company whose findings are in the report, shows that
some sectors are making in-roads into greenhouse gas
These include electric power
companies in North America; international automobile
manufacturers and metals and mining companies.
But other sectors appear to be
either treading water or seeing emissions continue to
rise including oil and gas and chemicals.
The best known carbon markets are
those established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
These include International
Emissions Trading; Joint Implementation and the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM).
The CDM allows industrialized
countries to offset some of their domestic emissions via
cleaner and renewable energy schemes alongside
afforestation and reforestation projects in developing
As of November 2007, over 850
projects had been registered in close to 50 countries
worth just over $1 billion in what are known as
certified emission reductions.
A further $1.4 billion are in the
pipeline and the CDM could, if fully exploited
eventually trigger investment flows for some $100
billion from North to South.
A recent survey of the CDM,
published in the Year Book, indicates that close to 30
per cent of such projects are currently aimed at
tackling the refrigerant by-product HFC-23 followed by:-
. Reductions in the nitrous oxide
gas adipic acid, 10 per cent
. Waste methane from landfills into
electricity, 11 per cent
. Biomass fuels, seven per cent
. Wind power, installation of
combined gas turbines and hydro-power six per cent each
. Emissions reductions from
oil-fields and coal mining, four per cent each.
The Year Book also chronicles the
rise of voluntary emission reduction markets such as the
Chicago Climate Exchange and the Over the Counter
The Chicago exchange now has over
330 companies, cities, states and other participants
despite the decision of the United States not to ratify
the Kyoto Protocol. And while it is deemed a voluntary
exchange, those involved are required to sign
Since 2003, the volume of carbon
traded has risen from zero to around 20 million tonnes
of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2006. The exchange is
also involved in a wider suite of offsets when compared
with the formal Kyoto-inspired markets.
For example, participants in the
Chicago exchange can invest in reducing emissions from
livestock and animal wastes including biogas;
agricultural soil carbon sequestration and grass
planting; urban tree planting and forest conservation
The voluntary Over the Counter
offsets market is also evolving after suffering a
measure of criticism and concern that some projects were
flawed, counter-productive or even environmentally and
"Schemes are emerging to guarantee
to purchasers that carbon offsets represent genuine
emission reductions, without harmful environmental side
effects," says the Year Book.
The Voluntary Carbon Standard was
introduced in November 2007 and is endorsed by the
International Organization for Standards under its ISO
14064 and ISO 14065 series.
The latest figures indicates that
the total voluntary carbon market was, in 2006, worth
around $90 million with most projects in North America
and dominated by forestry schemes, followed by Asia
where the lion's share of projects are for renewable
This compares with close to $30
billion from the formal Kyoto markets and mechanisms in
the same year.
Payments for Ecosystem
The formal and voluntary carbon
markets are triggering new market mechanisms for
including the carbon removing value of forests alongside
other benefits such as water management, biodiversity
conservation and the preservation of traditional
Some countries and communities are
already pursuing these multiple goals under the
voluntary markets by finding buyers interested in more
than just carbon.
The Year Book cites the case of the
Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda and the organization Bosque
Sustentable of Mexico. In 2006, they completed a sale of
land to the United Nations Foundation which was keen to
reduce its carbon footprint via a project that will also
A similar sale is the final stages
to the World Land Trust, a UK-based organization who
will be selling the Sierra Gorda Carbon and
Environmental Offsets to a range of European buyers.
These developments are also
underlined by a project funded by the Government of the
Netherlands in Tanzania called Kyoto: Think Global, Act
The project has involved training
people on hand-held Geographic Information Systems in
order to assist local forest communities estimate the
amount of carbon being sequestered by their trees.
Each village forest was found to be
sequestering 1,300 tonnes of carbon per year-equivalent
to an income of $6,500 per village per year at the then
prevailing market price for carbon.
By bundling in the added value of
water and biodiversity conservation, the actual incomes
could be even higher.
The chance to realize such incomes
is becoming a growing possibility. Late last year, the
World Bank announced the Forest Carbon Partnership
Facility to conserve standing forests and to begin
avoiding the estimated 20 per cent of global greenhouse
gas emissions from deforestation.
A further development emerged at
the Bali climate convention in December 2007 when Norway
announced $2.7 billion of funding for Reduced Emissions
from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).
Adapting Insurance to
Creative market mechanisms are also
emerging to try and deal with adaptation to climate
Extreme weather events are on the
rise and are likely to become more prevalent in a
climate constrained world. Yet many of those at risk
have little access to formal insurance markets.
The Year Book cites a new study by
Munich Re, one of the world's leading re-insurance
companies. This estimates that cover for catastrophic
events such as hurricanes and storm surges, is virtually
non-existent for billions of people in Africa, Asia and
Latin America and the Caribbean.
"Of the 2.5 billion people
world-wide who have less than two dollars a day at their
disposal, it has been estimated that only ten million
are able to purchase insurance," says the report.
Some developments are underway
however including micro-insurance. In Africa, pilot
projects that pay out to farmers when rainfall drops
below a key threshold, are being tested.
. For example the UN's World Food
Programme have partnered with the re-insurer AXA to
develop weather derivatives that pay out to Ethiopian
farmers in the event of severe drought.
. Swiss Re, a member of the UNEP
Finance Initiative, has launched a Climate Adaptation
Development Programme to provide financial protection to
up to 400,000 people in 10 countries in Africa from
The UNEP Year Book 2008 concludes
that "for new developments to reach the scale and scope
that is needed, governments must play a stronger
stimulation and facilitation role".
Some of the measures that
governments might wish to consider include
. Removing fossil fuel subsidies
could reduce C02 emissions by five to six per cent
annually. Currently, fossil fuel subsidies amount up to
$200 billion a year versus support for low-carbon
technologies of an estimated $33 billion annually.
Research and Development (R+D)
. Boosting research and
development. The International Energy Agency estimates
that R+D for low emission innovations such as renewables
and energy savings declined by 50 per cent between 1980
. In order to achieve a C02
stabilization target of 550 parts per million, support
for innovation needs to rise from just over $30 billion
to $90 billion by 2015 and to $160 billion by 2025
according to some experts.
. Increase global targets for
energy efficiency improvements to 2.5 per cent annually.
. These should be supported by
policies including stronger energy savings building
codes for new and existing structures; penalties or
disincentives for builders to choose the cheapest, least
energy efficient designs, materials and gadgets;
policies that promote mass transit especially rail and
international minimum performance standards for
industrial and household appliances.
. Other measures include the
promotion of utility pricing that favours energy
efficiency; promotes combined heat and power and
improves energy savings in existing power plants and
electricity transmission infrastructure.
. Policies that increase the uptake
of renewables may include 'feed-in laws' that guarantee
a fixed price for each unit of renewable electricity
generated; regulations that boost access to the Grid;
incentives for second generation biofuels and ones that
address other barriers including resource
mapping-UNEP/GEF's Solar and Wind Energy Resource
Assessment is a good example of the latter.
. Government agencies and donors
need to develop and deploy new forms of 'end-user'
credit schemes to assist consumers to purchase climate
mitigation technologies and systems.
. New approaches are needed to
assist small to medium-sized enterprises innovate
including enterprise development services and seed
. Attention needs to be paid to new
financial and regulatory solutions that address the lack
of local currency financing in least developed
economies-this is effectively shutting out such
economies from low C02 emitting infrastructure
. Harnessing the 'green
procurement' potential of local authorities through
financial incentives that stimulate voluntary low carbon
. Public investments are needed to
mobilize finance for adaptation given that market
mechanisms are in their infancy.
. Other actions for adaptation
include regulations to limit the vulnerability of new
investments and infrastructure such as bans on building
in flood prone areas and new, labour intensive,
programme to 'climate proof' rural areas that improve
resilience of local populations; address poverty; boost
incomes and increase the skills base.
Notes to Editors
The 10th Special Session of UNEP's
Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum
will take place between 20 and 22 February in Monaco.
The theme is Globalization and the
Environment-Mobilizing Finance to Meet the Climate
The UNEP Year Book 2008 can be
found at www.unep.org
It can be purchased at Earthprint
www.earthprint.com and is available in all six official
UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian
This press release is also based on
a UNEP report to ministers that can be found under
The meeting will be preceded on 19
February by the 9th Global Civil Society Forum
Monaco, the Host Country's web site
is at http://www.unep2008.gouv.mc/pnue/wwwnew.nsf/HomeGb
Media are welcome to attend the
Three press conferences are
20 February-Findings from the UNEP
Year Book 2008 and Findings from Green Jobs Initiative
21 February-Launch of a new Climate
Neutrality Initiative involving Countries, Corporations
22 February-Launch of a New Report
on the Threats Climate Change Pose to the World's
Fisheries and Oceans
Side events-Nine news-worthy
and informative side-events are scheduled
1- High-level Roundtable on Climate
Change and Trade (World Trade Organisation and UNEP)
2- UNEP Scientific Initiatives:
Atmospheric Brown Cloud and Agricultural Assessment.
3- UNEP experience in designing
financial mechanism for climate change mitigation.
1- Launch of the Global Strategy
for Follow up to The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
2- Harnessing GEF catalytic
financing for advancing global environmental issues.
3- Supporting Local Authorities -
combining the event "Financing for the sustainable
building sector" with "The UN, regions and local
authorities: a new alliance in response to Climate
Friday 22 February
1- Green Jobs
2- Oceans, Coasts and Climate
Change (with the UN Foundation)
3- Private - Public bank Dialogue
"UNEP Finance Initiative".
For More Information Please
Contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of
Media, on Phone:+ 254-20 7623084; Mobile in Kenya: + 254
(0) 733 632755
Mobile when traveling: +41 79 596
57 37; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Robert Bisset,
UNEP Spokesperson for Europe, on tel: +33 6 2272 5842 or
Mr. François Chantrait, Directeur.
Centre de Presse
10 Quai Antoine 1er, 98000 -
MONACO, Phone: + 377 98 98 22 08