The Pacific Northwest can lead a post-carbon economy
By Boyd Cohen
We are all feeling a bit gloomy given the current economic situation facing the U.S. and of course the stalemate in Washington is not helping. I believe the next arms race is already shaping up and the country or region that makes the investment now will be in a position to lead as we come out of the recession. What Hunter Lovins and I demonstrated in our recent book, Climate Capitalism, is that communities, cities, countries and companies that are making the transition to the low-carbon economy now are already reaping the rewards in terms of economy and jobs. So contrary to what some in Washington (D.C. that is) will tell you, taking action on climate change does not have to be a drain on the economy.
Quick question: Which economy is stronger now, China’s or the U.S.? OK, that was easy. A more difficult one: Which country has more installed renewable capacity? China — 103 gigawatts compared to 58 for the U.S. Which country has a higher percentage of renewables in its portfolio? China again. Which country is investing more in renewables? China once again — $54 billion vs. $34 billion in the U.S.
Don’t get me wrong. China is far from achieving carbon neutrality. And their recent focus on cleantech is not the only reason their economy is much stronger than ours. But what I suggest is that regions and countries that invest now are positioning themselves for long-term economic growth. I like to call this invest now or pay later.
We must more seriously get on the low-carbon economy train before it passes us by. The Pacific Northwest is uniquely positioned to come out as a climate capitalism leader, more so than any other region in North America.
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