Opinion

The Great Debate

Shifting global investments to clean energy

Cattle graze near wind turbines in Paracuru, Brazil, April 24, 2009. REUTERS/Stuart Grudgings

When President Barack Obama announced the country’s first national climate strategy, many people wondered what it would mean across the nation. Yet, the strategy may carry even more significant implications overseas.

The plan restricts U.S. government funding for most international coal projects. This policy could significantly affect energy producers and public and private investors around the globe.

Why is this important?

Global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, a major driver of climate change, hit a record high in 2012. Meanwhile, there are more than 1.2 billion people worldwide still without access to electricity. The global middle class is booming — especially in the developing world — and with it, energy demand is surging. In fact, global energy demand is expected to grow by one-third by 2035.

This surge in demand, however, does not need to lead to a surge in carbon pollution. It is well past time for the world to embrace the shift to renewable energy — a shift that would bring economic opportunities while leaving a better planet for future generations.

Ending renewable energy’s villainy

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions mark the beginning of the end for the 2012 presidential campaign and – one hopes – the end of a regrettable chapter in American politics: a time when supporting real economic growth by encouraging American entrepreneurs became less important than throwing political punches.

For the better part of a year, politicians have paid lip service to aiding entrepreneurship, arguing that to pull our economy out of a recession we need to support small businesses and growing industries. Despite this, one sector filled with entrepreneurship and successful companies has been maligned, ignored, and in some instances vilified (Solyndra being the most prominent example). What’s so wrong with the U.S. solar, wind, biofuels and other clean, renewable energy industries?

It’s long past time to move beyond the accusatory politics of misrepresented facts and return to the bipartisan collaborative spirit that has driven clean energy’s success in this country. With less bad politics and more good policy, the sector can rapidly expand and make America a world leader in clean, renewable energy technology.

Clean energy investment needs greener light

– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

paul-taylorInvestors in clean energy are like motorists stuck at broken traffic lights. The public policy light is green but the price and credit lights are deep red.

Investment in wind, wave and solar power should be booming after the European Union last year adopted an ambitious goal to draw 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 to help fight global warming, and U.S. President Barack Obama made green power a central plank of his government’s policy.

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