Business rethinks green rules

         

Sydney Morning Herald, 11th January 2008

Climate change is dramatically rewriting the rules for business, investors and consumers worldwide, affecting more than $100 billion in annual capital flows, a new report says.

Global spending on renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal soared by 27 per cent to an estimated $66 billion last year, following a 33 per cent jump in 2006, the annual Worldwatch Institute State of the World report said. Investment in carbon trading nearly tripled in 2006, to an estimated $30 billion.

In Australia, a surge in corporate spending on energy technology is expected as the Government promotes its target of 20 per cent of the nation's electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020. It has pledged a national carbon trading system from 2010, possibly requiring businesses to pay for emission permits.

Launching the report, which is in its 25th year, the Worldwatch president, Chris Flavin, told media in Washington the world had woken up to the environmental challenges facing it, and was moving towards a "vibrant, sustainable economy".

A Yale University environmental law professor, Daniel Esty, said global corporations such as General Electric, Toyota and Dow were embracing clean technology not because they were "do-gooders", but because the bottom line was right.

World Bank data shows 39 countries had a drop in wealth of at least 5 per cent when environmental damage - depletion of non-renewable resources, unsustainable forestry - was taken into account.

The report says more needs to be done, calling for government policy to steer investment away from fossil fuels towards sustainable practices.

The Age this week revealed Victoria's annual energy-related greenhouse emissions have surged nearly 30 per cent since 1990 due to its reliance on dirty brown-coal power stations.

a-  Japan is expected to pledge $11.35 billion over the next five years to help developing countries such as China and India combat global warming. The step, reported in the Nikkei business daily, comes after environmentalists criticised Japan for arguing against compulsory greenhouse emission reduction targets at last month's climate change summit in Bali.





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