The World Green Economy Summit felt like a far cry from Carbon Tanzania’s usual working environment, for someone who is used to walking though forests and sleeping under the stars, this hi-tech business driven summit in Dubai was not my ‘natural’ environment. So why were we there? This summit is one of the leading global forums on the green economy, bringing together world-class experts from around the world to directly focus on advancing the global green economy and sustainability agenda. Whilst the main focus for the summit is energy transition, I was invited to give a presentation on forests and REDD+ as part of the first panel of the conference on climate change and The Paris Agreement.
So what is the green economy? ‘Stimulating economic growth whilst reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities’ according to Wikipedia. In short, sustainable development without degrading the environment. One key feature of the green economy is recognizing that ecosystem services have a tangible value, including, of course, carbon. These services, be they air, water or soil, underpin humanity’s existence and have a value to all of us, it’s just that many don’t recognize it! Is the green economy real, can it actually replace our current fossil fuel economy? Well, let’s look at the stats; the global green economy currently stands at 7.2 trillion USD…just take a moment to digest that figure…and proves that development does not have to be at the expense of the environment. If we take the example of California, green growth reached 8% in 2016 creating 3,500 jobs, a rate almost 5 times faster than the states-wide average. So why are we seeing this green economy grow? Mainly due to policies, such as The Paris Agreement, which has both global and local effects including the Chinese green productivity growth initiative. This state driven scheme is driving job creation in innovation, especially in the arena of technology for energy generation. Let’s not forget that Tesla just built the largest lithium ion battery in the world and every car at the Frankfurt motor show, you guessed it, is powered by batteries.
Forestry is part of this story, creating jobs, creating economic opportunity and locking carbon in the ground. The world is changing direction and countries like Tanzania have an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the green economy, by protecting its forests to access payments for carbon offsets under article5of The Paris Agreement, and by making the energy transition now.