Another green world (please)

By Gareth Renowden 10/07/2011

Geoff Ross, founder of vodka maker 42 Below, explains the thinking behind the Pure Advantage campaign, launched last week to persuade New Zealand that “green growth” is the best way (some might say the only credible way) for the NZ economy to develop [Herald, Stuff]. Pure Advantage is the brainchild of a group of NZ business leaders, convinced that NZ’s existing reputation as (relatively) clean and green place can be leveraged to give the country an advantage as the world moves to embrace “green growth” — something already worth, they say, $6 trillion a year worldwide.

Pure Advantage grew out of efforts by business leaders to persuade the government to take green growth seriously, and a measure of their success is that this week the Ministry of Economic Development released the first discussion paper (pdf) from the Green Growth Advisory Group created earlier this year. The group’s terms of reference are to help exporters “make the most of a ’clean, green’ New Zealand brand”, encourage “smarter use of technology and innovation”, and help businesses move to a “lower-carbon economy”. It’s a pity there’s not much sign of the latter in other government policy initiatives1

Meanwhile, to underline why all this fuss about green development is important, the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a major report, The World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation (full pdf), which finds that the global economy will require:

…a technological overhaul […] on the scale of the first industrial revolution. Over the next 40 years, $1.9 trillion per year will be needed for incremental investments in green technologies. At least one-half, or $1.1 trillion per year, of the required investments will need to be made in developing countries to meet their rapidly increasing food and energy demands through the application of green technologies.

If that’s not a market opportunity, I don’t know what is. The report has flown under the radar for most of the world’s media, and I’ve only had time to skim the summary, but it looks like a useful statement of where we are, and where we need to go. More later, perhaps, if I can find the time to do it justice2.

[Brian Eno, best known as the theme to British TV doco series Arena.]

  1. And no National Party members attended the Pure Advantage launch, despite invites.
  2. I have a book to finish, truffles to “grub” (as some might say), vineyard, fruit trees and roses to prune, and only a few weeks to do it all.