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The Telegraph/UK

Expert: Global Recession Could Be Time to Reverse 'the Culture of Consumerism'

The Government spent seven times more on paying off bankers and 20 times more money bailing out the car industry than on environmental initiatives, campaigners have claimed

Louise Gray

Protesters hold a banner reading 'People before bankers' as part of a demonstration against the upcoming G20 summit, in Paris, Saturday, March 28, 2009. The G20 will take place in London on April 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

In the run up to the G20 meeting of world leaders in London this week, two reports have called for more focus on tackling climate change as part of any international economic stimulus.

Think tank the New Economics Foundation claimed the Government has spent just 0.6 per cent of the UK's total stimulus package on green measures despite Gordon Brown's promise to reflect President Obama in creating a low carbon economy in a "new green deal".

The report compared the £120 million spent on the green economy to the £775 million bonuses paid to staff at the Royal Bank of Scotland and £2.3 billion paid out to the car industry.

It said the Government could be missing a "huge opportunity" to boost the economy, ensure energy security and tackle climate change through investing in renewables and green jobs.

In a separate report, the Government's sustainable development adviser argued that the pursuit of economic growth is one of the root causes of the current financial crisis, as well contributing to climate change.

Jonathon Porritt, Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, said the current global recession should be the occasion to forge a new economic system through prioritising public infrastruture, limiting emissions and "reversing the culture of consumerism".

He said: "Fundamentally transforming the foundations of the economy is the biggest contribution we can make towards building a sustainable future. The current economic crisis may be painful, but it will be nothing compared with the crises we will face if we continue to grow in a way that threatens the life-support systems on which we rely."

Environmental groups plan to protest at the forthcoming G20 meeting with a climate change camp in the City of London and protests outside the European Climate Exchange.

Meanwhile Government representatives are meeting in Bonn, Germany and Washington, USA to discuss a climate change deal to be decided in Copenhagen at the end of this year. Rich countries are under pressure to commit to targets to cut emissions while poorer countries are calling for more money to halt deforestation and tackle the affects of climate change.

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