The New Green: Green economy could create turnaround
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 00:03
It seems fair to say that the majority of humanity is currently underserved by today’s economic systems. Millions of people around the world lack access to fulfilling jobs, adequate food, water or healthcare, and are suffering the environmental costs of industry such as increased pollution and disease. Embracing a green economy would reverse all of these problems, but how do we make the transition? In a 2011 article for theWorld Resources Institute, economic expert Dr. Manish Bapna addresses exactly this question.
As mentioned in my previous article, the transition to a green economy is not going to be painless. It will mean abandoning some industries altogether, such as the coal industry. Consequently, people will lose their jobs. Perhaps most daunting of all, making the transition to a truly beneficial economy will mean taking the money out of politics and building a genuinely representative and accountable government. As Dr. Bapna said, “The problem is vested interests.
Those who benefit from the status quo are either overrepresented in or have greater access to institutions that manage natural resources and protect the environment. U.S. climate legislation, for example, was defeated in no small part by resistance from fossil-fuel based energy advocates.” Overturning the status quo will unavoidably mean taking on some of these big and powerful opponents.
Despite these obstacles, hope is not lost for an economy that truly serves our needs. All over the world, examples of green economies are emerging – Dr. Bapna cites the example of China’s massive investment in wind energy: “Why is China investing in wind? To win tomorrow’s markets, not necessarily to compete in today’s.” China’s choice of short-term sacrifice for long-term gain is the attitude that must be adopted in order to implement a Green Economy. We can also devise methods to soften the blow of the transition for those who will need it most (a government program could, for example, provide financial and career-change support for ex-coal miners).
In summary, Dr. Bapna explains that a green economy is a system that “promotes a triple bottom line: sustaining and advancing economic, environmental and social well-being,” and so will necessitate a complete paradigm shift in regard to “growth and development, production of goods and services, and consumer habits.” In order to make the shift happen, Dr. Bapna recommends four actions: increasing public awareness about green economies, promoting new economic indicators (beyond just GDP), opening up political decision-making processes to the public, and taking advantage of political leadership. Many people say that they aren’t interested in politics, but we are all inevitably political actors. Doing nothing is a conscious decision with associated consequences. If we want an economy that serves us rather than the other way around, some political moves must be made.