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G20 countries urged to spur green jobs – by Vestas…

A working group for creating green jobs, lead by Vestas’ President and CEO Ditlev Engel, is calling on G20 heads of states to facilitate green job creation.

The irony will not be lost on readers that the group is lead by Vestas, which recently announced it will lay off 3000 people – mainly in Denmark.

The green jobs working group wants G20 leaders to commit to:

  • Setting a robust price on carbon – high enough and stable enough to change people’s behaviour and investment decisions;
  • Scale up research and development – and do so dramatically;
  • Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as quickly as possible – and within five years at most; and
  • Allow free trade in environmental goods and services.

Engel says: “It’s not a one-size fits all approach. We have only a short time with the leaders here at G20. That’s why for us, it starts here in Seoul. Our offer to each of the G20 leaders is simple: Give us an hour of your time and we’ll come to you. Give us a date in your calendar and we’ll help you create a tailor-made policy framework to meet your country’s specific needs. Instead of a 1x20 solution, we suggest a 20x1 solution, finding what works best for each country.”

He continues: “Creating green jobs on a massive scale is a two-way street. Give us the policy frameworks, and we’ll give you the results. We’ll make the investments, we’ll take the risks, and we’ll create the jobs. But this requires a policy framework that re-balances the incentives indisputably in favour of green investment.

“The ‘green jobs race’ is on. The question is, how much can each G20 member benefit? This is why we’re asking each G20 leader to give us a date, an hour of their time, so we can help them and their countries win.”

The four areas of focus in detail

Carbon price

In order to motivate investment on the scale needed, the carbon price must be transparent, long-lived and certain. Emission trading systems such as the EU-ETS are not currently delivering objectives – new measures are needed. In some regions, the working group believes a carbon tax could be considered.

Research and development

R&D spending needs to be increased by a factor of four to get near an optimum level. This would lead to the creating of highly skilled green jobs, as well as lead to faster update of new technologies, which in turn leads to lower costs and increased efficiency. R&D support needs to come in the form of public subsidies, grants, partnerships and co-investments. Furthermore, the working group says market-based technology transfer agreements are needed to maximise the impact of spending – especially in the developing world.

End fossil fuel subsidies

Although G20 leaders already have committed to phasing out some of the US$557 billion spent annually on fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term, the working group believes faster and broader action is required. It urges G20 leaders to end all such subsidies within the next five years. Of course protecting the poor remains a priority, but a number of countries have been able to protect the vulnerable whilst not encouraging over-consumption of fossil fuel.

Free trade in environmental goods and services

Finally, the working group believes existing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers such as local content requirements restrict free trade in green goods and services, thereby increasing prices, reducing competition, discouraging innovation and inhibiting green job growth. The G20 leaders should eliminate such trade barriers and set an example to expand such a free trade safe haven to more countries.

The working group on green jobs

The working group includes CEOs and Chairmen from: Cisco Systems Inc, GDF Suez, Hyandai Heavy Industries Co, PGE Polska Energetyczna SA, Robert Bosch GmbH, Shanfari Group of Companies, Siam Cement Group and Vestas Wind Systems A/S.

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