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UN urges move to global green economy for World Environment Day

June 5th is World Environment Day, and this year’s theme is “Green Economy: Does it Include You?”

Established in 1972 by the United Nations World Environment Program (UNEP), World Environment Day, or WED, is one of the largest efforts through which the U.N. “stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action,” according to UNEP.

UNEP defines a green economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.”

A UNEP report released last year found that investing 2 percent of global GDP (about $13 trillion) in 10 key sectors of agriculture, buildings, energy, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, tourism, transport, water and waste management could “kick start” the development of a global green economy. The report predicts that transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy would produce higher growth in GDP and per capita GDP by 2050 than the current world economic model, including a 50 percent reduction in the global economy’s ecological footprint by mid-century.

Additionally, the report notes, global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, a prime agent of anthropogenic-induced climate change, could be held below the critical 450 parts per million line – beyond which average global temperature increases of more than 2 degrees Celsius are predicted to cause irreversible ecological damage – if national and international policy reforms support the transition to a global green economy.

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