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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Life After GDP

The Swedish Presidency of the EU has once again pushed environmental concerns to the top of the agenda for a meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg last week.  The recommendations coming out of this meeting urge the Commission to put the ideal of an ‘eco-efficient economy’ at the heart of the revised 2010 Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs.

The idea is that the current twin crises of the economy and climate change can be turned into an opportunity through a ‘green economic transition’. With the right government regulations and incentives, it can be made profitable for businesses to use less energy and fewer resources and to reduce their carbon emissions.  Not only will the outcome deliver the desired eco-efficient economy, but increased EU competitiveness and growth in employment.

Environment ministers have also asked the Commission to develop new environmental and social indicators to more accurately reflect a country’s progress and economic performance, since traditional GDP alone is no longer useful.  While this idea is painfully ‘a la mode’ right now, the new indicators will help measure the results of EU environment policy in areas such as energy use, pollution and waste.  Now that the issue of combatting climate change in conjunction with improving the economy has been brought firmly into the mainstream, it’s up to both EU and national governments to make the ideal of the ‘eco-efficient economy’ a reality.

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