GENEVA (AP) – A high-profile U.N. panel headed by the presidents of Finland and South Africa hopes to spark an “ever-green” energy revolution later this year in Brazil using a general roadmap it presented Monday on how world leaders could wean the world off fossil fuels.
Its report links the world body’s goals of reducing poverty and inequality to promoting the use of wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy to run the economies of nations rich and poor.
To do that, the panel urges that nations fully integrate the social and environmental costs of their commerce into the prices and measures of their economic goods and services. They also call for creation of a global education fund, improvements in human rights and more programs to empower women _ all with the aim of overhauling economies.
The report says governments and international organizations “should work to create a new green revolution _ an ‘ever-green revolution’ for the 21st century” by spending more on agricultural research, protecting imperiled plant and animal species, conserving land and water and fighting pollution.
It also encourages the creation of regional oceans and coastal management bodies that protect world fisheries supplying 170 million jobs and daily protein for about one in five people on the planet.
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created the 22-member high-level panel in August 2010 to focus on one of his top priorities by providing the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development with a roadmap for its meeting in June at Rio de Janeiro.
The panel is headed by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma. Other panel members include top officials from the United States, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and some former world leaders.
The conference known as Rio+20 is a follow-up to the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Rio that galvanized the global environmental movement.
It was at that gathering two decades ago that the world first agreed to accept voluntary controls on greenhouse gases. National leaders signed on to a treaty committing them to work “to protect the climate system for present and future generations.”
Five years after Rio, negotiators added the Kyoto Protocol to the treaty. The Kyoto pact ordered cuts in emissions of heat-trapping cuts by 37 industrialized nations, but the U.S. rejected it. Subsequent climate summits have so far failed to craft a successor to Kyoto, which expires at the end of 2012.
Scientists have produced persuasive evidence that the carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases that industry, transport and farming pour into the atmosphere are trapping heat and raising global temperatures, with potentially damaging effects from a changing climate.
The panel’s report, presented at an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is billed as a new blueprint for sustainable development and “low-carbon prosperity,” with 56 recommendations to help get those priorities mainstreamed into nation’s economic policies.
“With the possibility of the world slipping further into recession, policymakers are hungry for ideas that can help them to navigate these difficult times,” Zuma said in a statement. “Our report makes clear that sustainable development is more important than ever given the multiple crises now enveloping the world.”
Jim Leape, director-general of Swiss-based WWF International, one of the world’s largest conservation groups, said the recommendations are “the highest-level political signal yet of greater readiness” by world leaders to transition away from fossil fuels.
“This report makes the alarming point that while we are already exceeding the Earth’s capacity to support us, by 2030 we will need 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water than we do today,” he said.
But in a statement the group also criticized the U.N. report because it “fails to suggest any concrete, time-bound commitments for progress, leaving policies open to governments to implement as they saw fit.”