Worldwatch Institute has issued a report claiming that climate change and other environmental problems are essentially inventing a new sustainable global economy. “Environmental problems are drastically rewriting the rules for business, investors and consumers, affecting over $100 billion in capital flows,” says project co-directors Gary Gardner and Thomas Prugh.The report says that in 2006, almost $52 billion was invested in renewable energy, up 33 percent from 2005. In the same year, carbon trading reached almost $30 billion. In addition, the report cites two studies that find that damage from global climate change could equal 8 percent of the global output by the end of the century.
This new sustainable global economy is driven by an array of sources including governments and NGOs. Familiar companies such as Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Wal-Mart have introduced influential environmental initiatives in recent years, and in the U.S., 27 major corporations, including Alcoa, Dow and GM, are urging Congress to pass greenhouse gas emission legislation. DuPont cut its greenhouse gas emissions 72 percent below 1991 levels and saved $3 billion as a result. What’s more, there are 575 environmental and energy hedge funds now in existence, and 54 banks, representing 85 percent of global private project finance capacity, have endorsed Equator Principles, an international standard of sustainability investment.