Green investment requires predictable carbon price, ministers agree at UN meeting

25 February 2008 – Predictable carbon pricing is needed to direct world investment flows toward an economy that could minimize climate change, close to 140 governments agreed today as they concluded a major meeting on the subject in Monaco, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) says.

“Sufficiently high and long-term predictable price for carbon will be central for mobilizing capital for the new economy,” according to the summary by Roberto Dobles, Costa Rican Environment and Energy Minister and President of UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, which ended Friday, and discussed the theme of “Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge.”

The five-day Forum set new priorities for UNEP and was the largest gathering of environment ministers since last December’s landmark UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, which ended with 187 countries agreeing to launch a two-year process of formal negotiations on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol.

In adopting a medium-term programme of work at the meeting, participants decided on a new strategy to strengthen and refocus UNEP's response to climate change as well as its handling of disasters, conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances, hazardous waste and resource efficiency, UNEP said.

“This decision is a major milestone in achieving a consensus among the international community as well as civil society and the private sector to set new and transformational directions for this environment programme of the UN,” Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said at the meeting’s close.

In regard to financing to meet the challenges of global warming, many participants urged that the Adaptation Fund of the Kyoto Protocol become quickly operational to ‘climate proof’ vulnerable economies, according to the President’s summary.

In addition, many maintained that the Clean Development Mechanism of the Protocol, which may eventually generate up to $100 billion of investment flowing from North to South into clean and green energy projects, needed to be "supplemented by significant contributions from industrialized countries.”

"Developing countries no longer need to be convinced of the advantages of green growth, but they do need financial and technical assistance in order to make the transition to lower carbon economies,” the summary noted.

A transformation in the marketplace was noted by private sector participants at the meeting, who said that renewable energy had 'shed its fringe image' and was now a mainstream business, although there remained a 'lack of activity' in poorer developing countries.

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