The saga of political deadlock at Rio+20 further demonstrates the need for leadership for a clean revolution, in particular from the major economies, both industrialized and emerging. A "New Green Deal" is the solution to the global challenges of energy security, climate change, and sustainable economic growth.
A new thought-leadership report entitled "Consensus and Cooperation for A Clean Revolution," a joint publication of The Climate Group and The Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Policy and Management, zooms in on four critical issues for sustainability - not just for China and other emerging economies, but also globally: namely, overseas capital flow from emerging economies, sustainable resource management, trade and environment, and climate change. It proposes a new framework to tackle those critical issues based on leadership, transparency, demonstrable actions, equity and fairness, and reciprocity.
While the whole world is struggling with financial crisis and economic recession, the emerging economies' role has become more critical in helping to find a solution. The industrialized world has been literally dependent on the continued growth of emerging economies to lead the world out of recession. But tensions due to concerns of competitiveness have been rising around green trade barriers and protectionism, IPR and technology transfer, resource competition, and market share, among other issues.
This is also where the opportunities lie for emerging economies to take the lead to transform the path of economic growth and to redesign their policy incentives to enable economic and industrial restructuring. The concept of 'Redesign' also applies to rapid urbanization where urban planning and development is concerned. The opportunity lies in the fact that new development is occurring in many parts of the emerging economies and other developing countries. If we do it right, we will avoid the lock-in effects and benefit from the low carbon and clean infrastructure that will deliver a better, healthier and more sustainable quality of life for all.
The Climate Group has launched a 'China Redesign' program that catalyzes leadership, innovation, and partnership to address some of the urgent issues in urban development through planning and design, infrastructure, financing, and green industrialization. Such a concept could be easily extended to other emerging economies that face similar challenges. It would also apply to industrialized countries when existing facilities and infrastructure are to retire and get retrofitted or replaced.
As demonstrated in the Beijing Olympics, the Shanghai World Expo and elsewhere, we today have the technologies and solutions required to turn the world into a much better place in which to live. From renewable energy and energy efficiency, to LED lighting and electric vehicles, human society is showing the innovation and creativity needed to achieve sustainability. What is needed is stronger political will and an enabling policy environment to drive technology innovation and capital flows, and to scale up those solutions in those places where it is needed most - and within the timeframe required to address energy and climate challenges.
At the global level, the rise of China and other emerging economies is reshaping a new global political landscape - one that is not yet fully reflected in international institutions and processes. This transition is not only creating new centers of influence, but also tremendous economic, developmental and business opportunities. A favorable enabling global context could be the force to drive a global clean revolution.