Last December the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for a new "Green New Deal" to kick start the global economy. UN talks on a post-Kyoto climate deal end in December and agreement is crucial if limits on CO2 emissions are to be achieved.
In the US the Obama Administration has launched a "Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" which aims to double alternative energy capacity over the next three years. Part of this involves laying 3,000 miles of transmission lines which they hope will create "green" jobs.
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In two key debates last autumn, on the world financial crisis on 18 November and the state of climate change and energy negotiations on 4 December, MEPs discussed the main issues.
The leader of the centre-right EPP-ED group Joseph Daul stressed the importance of promoting "eco-innovation" in a debate on 4 December. He told fellow MEPs: "If we invest now we can safeguard the jobs of tomorrow." His colleague Avril Doyle said that "investment, jobs, salaries, consumption and saving our planet are all synonymous".
"New infrastructure" needed
Swedish MEP Jan Andersson for the rival Socialist PSE group told the House on 18 November: "We need new environmental technology and a new infrastructure that is much more environmentally friendly than the infrastructure we have today."
Also speaking in that debate was the leader of the Liberal ALDE group Graham Watson. He told the Parliament in Strasbourg: "A modern-day John Maynard Keynes would put people back to work installing solar panels and wind generators on every house in Europe, fostering innovation and providing jobs simultaneously."
For the UEN group Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki noted that: "At the present time, economic growth and fighting the increasing threat of unemployment are a hundred times more important than climate change issues."
Also in that debate the issue of state bailouts for Europe's car industry were discussed. Co-President of the Greens Monica Frassoni vowed: "There should be no public funds or blank cheques for the car industry. This would be like carrying on throwing money down the drain."
For the leftist GUE/NGL group Roberto Musacchio said on 4 December that: "The environment is not a problem for the economy but the key to the solution" for Europe's economic woes.
Tell us what you think! Is boosting the economy compatible with saving the planet?