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South-South Renewable’s Trade Increases As Countries Seek Cleaner Power

A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme shows that renewable energy trade between South-South countries has exploded over the past year, led by regional-heavyweight China.

The South-South — an academic term for trade between developing countries, also known as countries in the global south — are taking advantage of decreasing manufacturing costs, increased investment into the industry, and the falling costs of renewables as the technology’s mature.

In fact, south-south renewable energy trade is growing faster than global and north-south trade. And while the current trends are a direct result of the industry’s development throughout global north — with global figures for low-carbon and energy efficient technologies projected to triple by 2020 — it’s the global south country’s making the most of what has come before today.

“The EGS [environmental goods and services] market – which is expected to grow to around $US1.9 trillion by 2020 – offers developing countries an unprecedented opportunity to drive the green economy transition,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“A significant contributor to South-South EGS trade, renewable energy technologies now represents one of the fastest-growing markets in the world,” he added. “They are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing rural and off-grid energy access and improving energy security, as well as creating jobs and livelihood opportunities. This report highlights the need for targeted investments, enabling policies and capacity building to support the global transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy.”

“South-South trade in environmental goods and services (EGS) is critical to the transition to a green economy for a number of reasons,” the report’s authors note, highlighting the ability for developing countries to export EGS to other developing economies to bolster their own, the ability for trade to stimulate employment growth, and to enhance regional cooperation through regional and global trade.

The full report is available for download here (PDF).

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