The global economy will be fueled by over US$20 trillion of spending on energy over the next two decades and this week's round of talks on global warming, which begin today in Vienna, Austria, will focus on how to make that investment as green as possible.
"We need to 'climate-proof' economic growth," said the UN's top climate official Yvo de Boer yesterday. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change believes additional investments of about US$210 billion a year are necessary to maintain greenhouse gas emissions at current levels until 2030.
More than 1,000 delegates from around the world will gather to talk about how best to ensure energy investments will contribute to reducing emissions rather than adding to it.
"The war against climate change is not a war against oil," De Boer said, recognizing that the world will likely be dependent upon oil and coal for many years to come. "It's a war against emissions."
The goal should be to find every way possible to reduce those emissions, increase efficiency, and catalyze investments in alternative energy, carbon capture, such as sequestration, and making what fossil fuels we do continue to use be more clean and efficient.
I've often been critical of the UN-led discussions for being nothing more than hot air. Let's hope this meeting and the others leading up to the climate summit in Indonesia this December will have concrete and economically viable outcomes.
View a webcast from Vienna: Climate Vienna