"Green Growth" Puts Climate Spend in Focus

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"The United States, Europe and other nations will spend about $100 billion on projects to fight climate change under economic stimulus plans. . ."

The United States, Europe and other nations will spend about $100 billion on projects to fight climate change under economic stimulus plans, raising questions about how much support the industry needs.

Spending money through a recession to boost jobs is well established, but the long term value-for-money of current support for clean energy is questioned.

Political and business leaders have called for "green growth" spending over the next two to three years to boost fossil fuel alternatives and cut carbon emissions, and create jobs and help a sector wilting in the downturn. Many energy alternatives including wind and solar are not yet cost-competitive with fossil fuels, and so need incentives.

"The fiscal stimulus simplifies things. It says - let's not worry about cost efficiency but get things moving. . .give the money to somebody making something we want," said Nick Mabey, head of the London-based environment group E3G.

But in the longer term European supports need to be more transparent, Mabey said, arguing that suppliers should bid to produce low-carbon electricity, as in some parts of the United States, rather than get fixed price support as now.

"If we're trying to push a big transformation you want it to be cost-effective."

"The (European) system just makes everything untransparent and gives lots of opportunities for people to get excess profits. It doesn't seem the best bargain for the consumer or the government."

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