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The Group of Twenty, or G20, should follow China and South Korea and start investing heavily in green initiatives, says Edward Barbier.

Last year, the G20 — the world's 20 wealthiest and emerging economies — embraced the Global Green New Deal proposed by the UN Environment Programme.

The deal planned to stimulate economic recovery while simultaneously enhancing the livelihoods of the world's poor and limiting environmental degradation.

It recommended that countries spend one per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) on green initiatives. But the G20 has largely missed this target, says Barbier.

The United States spent just 0.7 per cent of GDP on green initiatives and the European Union even less at 0.2 per cent.

China and South Korea, on the other hand, have spent three per cent of their GDP on green measures. And Barbier says that their investment is paying off. Both countries are now better placed in the race for technological superiority, he says.

China is the world's leading producer of solar cells, wind turbines, energy-saving light bulbs and solar water heaters and its renewable-energy sector already employs nearly one million people and is worth nearly US$17 billion.

South Korea similarly aims to create up to 1.8 million jobs with a five-year green-growth investment plan on top of the Global Green New Deal.

Other G20 countries should also "turn their green stimulus investments into serious long-term commitment", says Barbier. This must include establishing environmental pricing policies, cancelling fossil fuel subsidies, and agreeing reasonable commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

Link to full article in Nature