Environment and Energy
Is Green the Economic Solution?
Is green growth the way out of the current economic slump? Dr. Mark Weiss, chairman of Global Urban Development and a lead figure in the Climate Prosperity Project, certainly thinks so. His article in this week's Citiwire newsletter assert:
"Climate protection and economic growth are not enemies. Core strategies to create a vibrant economy — innovation, efficiency, strategic investment, and finding better ways to use and reuse resources — are exactly the same steps we need to cope with global climate change now. These actions will increase jobs, incomes, productivity, and competitiveness, and they’re green.'
'There are commentators who advocate postponing investments in renewable energy and clean technologies, suggesting this will somehow delay economic recovery. They’re dead wrong. In the 21st century, the only way for people and places to get richer is by thinking and acting for sustainability, specifically aiming to become 'greener.'"
I think everyone can agree that increased efficiency, technological innovation and new 'green collar' jobs would be great for the economy. (Who wouldn't love to land a new solar panel manufacturer in their community?) But the Wall Street Journal points out a potential stumbling block - cheap(er) oil. Oil prices have tumbled from $140 per barrel to approximately $70 as demand has fallen. The current economic slump may push demand and prices even lower. Yesterday's article, Going Down: What Will Falling Oil Prices Do to Clean Energy?, poses a big question:
"Cheaper oil could also affect support for renewable energy, even though wind turbines and solar panels don’t compete with oil and gasoline today. Crude at $140 focused minds in Washington on the need to look for alternative energy sources.... When oil prices collapsed in the 1990s, renewable energy in the U.S. basically fell off a cliff. Nobody is predicting a return to $10 oil, but with $60 oil considered the 'new cheap,' could it happen again?"
If 'green' is your community's strategy for economic development you will have to work to maintain focus. If public interest and political will forget about green because of lower gas prices and pressing economic issues, investment will be harder to secure and entrepreneurs will have a tough time delivering all those new, high paying green jobs.