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Transition to green economy - our view of government's 'roadmap'

5 August 2011

The UK government has published its vision for the transition to a green economy - its much anticipated 'roadmap'. In the midst of stock market turmoil and the spectre of another financial crisis, it’s unlikely to receive a lot of attention right now. But it should, because it's important - as far as it goes...

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It’s clear that new thinking is required to build an economy that’s sustainable in both economic and environmental terms. ‘Business-as-usual’ is saddling future generations with the burden of financial and ecological debt. We’re undermining the natural systems on which our economy and wellbeing depend.

A lot of people are now talking about the ‘green economy’, and it will be one of the key themes at next year’s Earth Summit at Rio. But there are many interpretations of what ‘green economy’ means.

Some people think it refers only to those industries directly involved in environmental goods and services, such as renewable energy and other clean technologies.

But in the new document it's released, the government correctly asserts that “a green economy is not a sub-set of the economy at large - our whole economy needs to be green.”

A green economy will necessarily be a low or zero-carbon economy, but it will also need to minimise all other environmental impacts - on biodiversity, freshwater, oceans, forests, soils etc. This will involve greening all sectors of the economy and investing in ‘natural capital’.

At WWF, we believe the green economy also includes an important social dimension - it should deliver wellbeing for everyone, within the boundaries and resources of one planet.

The transition to a green economy is therefore the critical task for achieving sustainable development - and a future where people and nature thrive.

Government vision is green, but lacking ambition 
The government’s publication clearly presents the case to UK business that the shift to a green economy is imperative, and what the risks are if we don’t. But it doesn’t announce any new policies. More ambitious and coherent initiatives and polices will be necessary in the future to turn the government’s vision into a reality.

We’re also concerned that the government’s core economic policy - the plan for growth - is insufficiently green.

WWF is a founding member of the Green Economy Coalition, a group of over 20 international organisations working together to develop and promote solutions to governments and business. And we’re also working to ensure the UK is a progressive force in the global shift to a green economy, by pioneering solutions at home.

You can...
Find out more about our own ideas for a 'One Planet Economy'


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