The UN’s annual Human Development Report published this year, titled Sustainability and Equity, has declared the environment is going downhill, measuring deterioration in several areas. The UNDP (United Nations Development Program) believes that human development (defined by the UN as “the expansion of people’s freedoms and capabilities to lead lives that they value and have reason to value”) will suffer if these trends are not halted or reversed.
The report made a number of bold statements, including one particularly gender-specific piece of information. According to the report, the more women in politics, the cleaner and more renewable energy is. To quote the report, female involvement:
“…is positively associated with better environmental outcomes, including better access to water, less land degradation and fewer deaths due to indoor and outdoor air pollution and dirty water.”
The UN also correlated lower birth rates and a cleaner environment; fewer kids means less mess. Cuba and Iran were held up as examples – they’re showing lower fertility and do a better job of protecting their environment. In the simplest way possible, fewer people use fewer resources and produce less trash:
“Evidence suggests that if all women could exercise reproductive choice, population growth would slow enough to bring greenhouse gas emissions below current levels. Meeting unmet need for family planning by 2050 would lower the world’s carbon emissions an estimated 17% below what they are today.”
How Much Clean Energy Costs (and How To Pay For It)
How much clean energy costs was also investigated, and it’s not cheap (at least $249 billion by 2030) – but it was also pointed out that current military spending and “perverse” subsidies accounted for far more. (For the record, the report implied that “perverse” subsidies were those spent on fossil fuel.)
In order to pay for clean energy, the UNDP investigated the possibility of a currency transaction tax, also called a “Robin Hood Tax.” The UN determined that a tax of 0.005% would yield around $40 billion a year worldwide – a substantial chunk of the money needed for renewable energy, and not a tax that would affect the average third- or even first-world citizen.
Human Development (Not Going Backwards Yet)
The UNDP also measured the human development index, which uses health, education, and income to rank each country. Norway scored the highest, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo scored at the bottom. It also compared the rankings with last year; Cuba is a better place to live, while Kuwait is apparently going to the dogs.
Renewable Energy for All!
2012 is the international year of sustainable energy for all, as designated by the United Nations. The UNDP (United Nations Development Program) sees it as an opportunity to make a high-profile push for universal access to clean energy. In the wake of this year’s UNDP report, a new group has been created to increase support for universal energy access, led by Kandeh Yumkella (wiki) and Charles Holliday (wiki):
“Clean energy offers the potential to alleviate poverty, reduce health impacts from indoor air pollution and drive social and economic development, while mitigating energy’s impact on the climate.”
Source: The Guardian | Image: Wikimedia Commons.
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