Bill Clinton: Going green is good
May 19, 2009 - Jae-Soon Chang - The
The world can fight global warming
in a way that makes sense economically, and the battle
can even help countries overcome the ongoing economic
crisis, former President Bill Clinton said Tuesday.
Clinton stressed during an international
climate change summit that it's possible today for
economies to grow without emitting greenhouse gases,
and the world must act now to cut emissions before
it is too late.
"We know that if we don't reduce greenhouse
gases by somewhere in the range of 80 percent by 2050,
bad things are going to happen," Clinton said in a
keynote speech at the third C40 Large Cities Climate
Summit, held this year in Seoul.
Organizers say cities bear a significant
responsibility to address climate change because they
cover less than 2 percent of the Earth's surface but
are overwhelmingly responsible for polluting it, generating
80 percent of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Global warming could lead to a drop
in food production and access to water, creating new
dangers to public health, Clinton warned.
"It is absolutely certain if we let
the worst happen, then the consequences will be so
severe that we won't be able to save the planet for
our grandchildren," Clinton said.
The former president, who now runs the
Clinton Climate Initiative, joined mayors and leaders
from some 70 cities around the world for a three-day
conference to trade advice and share experiences on
ways they have gone green.
Mayors will be discussing retrofitting
buildings, energy-efficient lighting, building infrastructure
for green vehicles and renewable energy technology.
Environmentally friendly products, including electric
cars and motorcycles, are on display at a separate
"Retrofitting" refers to renovating
old buildings to make them more energy-efficient.
Clinton acknowledged the reluctance
in some cities to spend the money needed to go green
at a time of economic hardship.
He said many still harbor the outdated
notion that pollution is a necessary byproduct of
industry, and that "a nation could not become rich,
maintain a standard of living and improve it without
putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."
"That is simply not true today."
Making the investment to reduce greenhouses
gases may even help countries mired in the economic
crisis by creating jobs, Clinton said.
China, for example, is suffering from
"a loss of orders crisis" as the economic downturn
cut demand for their products, leaving some 30 million
factory workers unemployed, Clinton noted.
"How can they deal with the current
climate crisis in a way that minimizes their lack
of orders crisis?" he said. "Answer? Spend whatever
money they spend, reducing greenhouse gases in the
way that creates the most jobs."
The construction of environmentally
friendly power plants generates far more jobs than
building coal-powered plants, and retrofitting buildings
that guzzle energy can provide many unemployed factory
workers with work, he said.
New York's retrofitted Empire State
Building emits 38 percent less in greenhouse gases,
the equivalent of taking 19,000 cars off the road,
Clinton noted. And the changes are saving the tenants
$4.5 million a year in electricity costs, Clinton
He also said a variety of loan guarantee
mechanisms should be developed so companies can take
out bank loans for green projects and repay them using
their utility savings.
"We have to convince people who are
not here that we know how to do it, and they can do
it, and that is good economics, not bad economics,"
he told the conference. "We never ask anyone to bankrupt
themselves in our climate change work."
The biennial summit was launched in
2005 in London and held in New York in 2007.
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