UN Secretary-General serves up a great big green herring

What appears to be a revolutionary call for a global economic transformation has been published by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. In the Washington Post he urges world leaders meeting in Bali for the Climate Change Conference “to open the door to the age of green economics and green development.”

He also writes: “First came the Industrial Revolution, then the technology revolution, then our modern era of globalization. We stand at the threshold of another great change: the age of green economics.”

There is no universally accepted definition of ‘green economics’ but here’s a good one: “Green economics is … primarily about ‘use-value’, not ‘exchange-value’ or money. It is about quality, not quantity for the sake of it. It is about regeneration—of individuals, communities and ecosystems—not about accumulation, of either money or material.”

Is this what the Secretary-General is getting at? Has the UN seen the light? Is this the green philosophical breakthrough at last?

Far from it. Ban Ki-Moon doesn’t call for any sort of revolutionary economic transformation at all. Meeting the challenge of climate change is just about improved energy efficiency and more ‘enviro-technology’. And no worries – “growth need not suffer and, in fact, may accelerate.” Which somehow doesn’t quite mesh with the definition given above …

Grabbing headlines by slapping the ‘green’ label on every noun you can lay your hands on is easy. Easy and meaningless. As long the growth obsession persists, and the profit motive dominates, nothing can change.

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