Researchers discuss the concept and feasibility of reconciling economic growth with the environment (UNEP)

“Green Economy” is often used to describe the compatibility of economic growth with the environment, one of the blocks for sustainable growth. According to the Green Economy an initiative of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched in 2008, the green economy results in improvement of human welfare and social equality, while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcity.
Despite being used for more than 20 years, the term of “green economy” is still controversial, as well as its own concept. While for some it is perfectly possible for the more critical it would be an attempt to feasible the consumer society and postpone structural changes.
This was the keynote of a panel that brought scientists from different countries in Rio de Janeiro during the discussions in the Rio+20′s event. At the meeting, researchers discussed the possibilities of a green economy, if this model requires a paradigm shift in economic patterns or whether it is compatible with competitive markets, with the modification of the resources and the expansion of consumption.
Elizabeth Stanton, Economist of the Institute for the Environment from Stockholm, Sweden, pointed out that we need to look for whom the benefits of this new economic paradigm would be distributed. “The trend is to make the poor get richer and the rich even richer?”
Tim Jackson, professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey, England, and author of “Prosperity without growth” advocated a change of values, with less consumerism and individualism. “Economic growth has been distributing its benefits unevenly. Far from raising the standard of living of the poor, the growth has worsened the situation for much of the world population. Wealth a favored minority. “With the expand of the economy, grow the implications involved in natural resources, with global impacts that are already unsustainable. In the last half century, when the global economy grew, 60% of the world’s ecosystems have been degraded. A shortage of the basic natural resources – like oil – may be less than a decade from us, “said Jackson.
The green economy is a form of denial as evidence that the concentration of carbon dioxide is rising at 2 parts per million (ppm) a year, said the Spaniard Joan Martinez Alier, University of Barcelona, for the Agency FAPESP. According to the economist, the basis of the agreement should be to abandon the grow of the global economic from the north hemisphere for growth of the South. “I think the North should have no growth economies and the South should reduce their natural extractions for half and reduce the export their products. What the South also could do was raise taxes on exports. In Brazil, for example, who would pay for a possible ecological accident in the extraction of oil from the seabed, with the pre-salt? “He said.
“The proposed global sustainability-based multilateral financial aid is not the way. Borrow money, as has been done historically, is not the way, for preserving the environment is not a question of millions, but to control climate change and maintain biodiversity. In the countries of the South, there’s a thought that they are too poor to be green. But the people who died as Chico Mendes were not to defend the ecology? Ecology is not a luxury, it is a necessity for everyone”, “said Alier.

Natural Resources
Lidia Brito, Director of the Scientific Policy Division of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), rejects the term “green economy”. “To be honest, we do not speak at UNESCO in the green economy. We talk about green society. I think that skepticism comes from of the researchers: the discussion is not about economy. What we know is that you cannot just talk about one of the blocks of sustainable development. The economy cannot be discussed without include the social, cultural and environmental aspects. They are interconnected and cannot be treated independently. I am satisfied with Brazilian scientists, who do not want to speak only in economy. We have to talk about green society, to highlight the force of change”.
In the opinion of Seroa Ronaldo da Motta, a researcher at the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) and Professor of Environmental Economics from Ibmec in Rio de Janeiro, there is no other choice but to attempt an economy that is restrictive in the use of natural resources. “I am for the pricing of natural resources. While the water is cheap, for example, we will consume more. We must concern ourselves with the liquid, i.e., how to lose natural capital to generate a given output. That’s what we should be measuring. If the prices of environmental services are increased, losses will be occurred in the short term in the economic growth, which will be later compensated. An example: due to the high rate of forest clearing, the restriction to the extraction of wood we passed made using petroleum products, and today we see many plastic products and almost no wood. But if we have an aggressive policy in the environmental area, the first thing to do is to reforest, because it’s cheaper option and urgent”.
“We need to reforest 10% of the planet’s surface to capture carbon. This boost of the sector since we extract timber and mobilize it on items like furniture to make the timber grow again and continue capturing carbon. In 30 years, for example, the fact we put a carbon high price, everyone having to plant it, resulting in economic growth driven by the productive sector of the wood, more competitive, without degradation of the environment, The output is not increasing the price of which is not sustainable through taxes, but to encourage sustainable initiatives whose products are cheaper”, said Motta”

Source and Photo: FAPESP, June 21st, 2012.
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