This article is from the In-Depth Report The Dawn of the Green Economy
60-Second Earth

A "Green" New Deal

Is environmental improvement the key to economic recovery?

[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]

For the first time in decades, the amount of goods traded around the world is projected to decline this year. So is the money earned by people producing those goods. As governments rush to shore up faltering economies, is it a luxury to invest in environmental improvements--or a necessity?

Judging by the stimulus package, the Obama administration is thinking necessity. The final bill includes more than $90 billion for things like retrofitting old buildings to be more energy efficient and building new high-speed train lines. 

The plan is to create at least five million "green" jobs to replace those lost in manufacturing and elsewhere—from installers of solar panels to sorters at recycling plants.  

That's exactly what the entire globe needs, according to a new report from the United Nations Environmental Programme. A global green new deal would lower fossil-fuel dependence and energy costs as well as create new jobs, among other things. 

Ultimately, the goal should be to expedite economic recovery, alleviate poverty and lay the foundation for a sustainable economy, according to economist Edward Barbier who wrote the report. That way we might rebound from an economic crisis precisely by avoiding environmental ones: energy insecurity, water scarcity and, of course, climate change.

—David Biello

60-Second Earth is a weekly podcast from Scientific American. Subscribe to this Podcast: RSS | iTunes

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