Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why the Green Economy Is Here to Stay

The Green Economy Is Here to Stay (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
In recent decades, global economic development has increasingly been impacted by sustainability considerations.  While corporations in previous eras may have polluted rivers, produced smog and run through natural resources with reckless abandon, today – whether catalyzed through government legislation, consumer demand, or a sense of social responsibility – companies are developing and growing their businesses with the environment in mind.  This concept, called the “green economy,” takes the full cost of an operation – including deferred and indirect carrying costs as well as externalities – into consideration.

President Barack Obama’s administration placed a lot of emphasis on the green economy, particularly in green energy.  Obama contended that the future of the U.S. economy, the health of the global the environment, and the promise of green technologies were trilaterally entangled.  According to this calculus, the green economy was not a hindrance to businesses, but a way for struggling companies to continue to thrive during and after the 2008 recession.

The Department of Energy, the EPA, and more all received increased funding for the development of green jobs and technologies, and new or tighter restrictions on pollutants and other environmental stressors were introduced.  No doubt, politics had a role in pushing sustainable technology forward and in compelling industries to “go green.”

The Pessimist’s Case
However, with the recent changes in the global political landscape, many have questioned the capacity of the green economy to persevere.

The dynamic unfolding in US politics vis-à-vis cleantech is in many ways a microcosm for what’s going on in capitals throughout the world.  With sustained economic hardship and ever-present security threats, there is an increasing appeal for inward facing policies that place greater priority on the here-and-now than the there-and-then.  As such, the argument has been put forward that environmental regulations represent a yoke on the backs of businesses.

As the argument goes, governments around the world may now look to liberate their economies from that yoke and pursue business and resource exploitation strategies that pay now – even if the lifetime costs of such ventures may be burdensome.

Taking a step back, one can be forgiven if he or she interprets recent events and political appointments to suggest that we may be entering an era of rapid and significant upheaval. Indeed, it seems that nothing can be taken for granted anymore.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean all the doom and gloom predictions will prove true.  In fact, there’s a very strong case to be made to the contrary.

The Realist’s Case
Let me be very clear about it: all the progress made in the green economy over the last few decades is here to stay.  While the changing political administrations are likely to bring some sort of change to the green economy, other factors are taking hold outside of public policy and regulation to cement the green economy as an indelible fixture of the business landscape.

What are those other factors, you ask?  By and large, they break down into these 6 simple facts:

Read more at Why the Green Economy Is Here to Stay

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