Good Green Policy in Times of Global Change

Recently a study comparing attitudes to green development have come to some very interesting conclusions. Basically, many North Americans perceive green development, energy efficiency measures and environmental protection regulations as a burden for the economy; in short a luxury in tough times. Europeans on the other hand recognise that the green industry is featuring above-average growth and jobs and that efficiency regulations will not only reduce foreign dependency but also save billions of Euros; a smart investment in tough times. This notable difference showed in negotiation positions in Durban. Europe was moving forward, uniting a grand coalition of climate change aware developing states. Europe even committed to unilaterally continuing with the Kyoto protocol. On the other side emerging countries unwilling to reduce their soaring total emissions, joined by the US and Canada unwilling to lower their irresponsibly high per capita emissions.

Durban still achieved a remarkable commitment to negotiate a binding agreement on greenhouse gas reduction including all, industrialised as well as emerging and developing countries until 2015 and enact it until 2020. In the following, I will examine the implications of these perception differences  for green policy.

For a start, the societal conditions for green policy are fundamentally different. In the light of overwhelming scientific evidence as well as confirming subjective observations, Europeans do not need to be persuaded that global warming is a real problem that requires action. Therefore politicians should start working on solutions such as providing smart market based incentives for becoming more energy efficient, which would also kick-start the green economy. At the same time, also Europeans need to be told that just be conscious about the problem is not good enough and that they cannot continue unsustainable living and consumption patterns with more efficient technology and that they will need to change some of their habits in oder to achieve the required reduction in energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

US American politicians on the other hand need to publicly stand up to powerful lobbies and self-declared pundits. Climate change is real and those denying it not only loose access to rapidly emerging new industries and jobs but are also unreliable and irresponsible members of the international community. We need clarity, whoever argues against science and common sense and denies man made climate change is against a better and more sustainable future for the world and responsible for the US missing out on the next big economic transformation. Good politicians do not let this happen but explain to their constituencies what needs to be done and how they are going to do it in a way that triggers the biggest benefits for their country.

At last, politicians in emerging countries should prepare their voters that the times of cheap energy and wasting resources will come to an end soon and that it investing in sustainable infrastructure, transportation, energy, etc. is the best way to catch up to the stagnating west held hostage by inefficient technology lobbies.

Source: Huffington Post

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