What’s holding us back when it comes to creating green climate policies?
A certain ennui seems to haunt the climate change conversation—that is, when it’s not being framed as a controversial debate. Myopic politicians are not necessarily the only ones at fault in this; though there exists a sizeable and passionate constituency of popular activism surrounding environmental policy—and global warming in particular—many American voters express ambivalence about the issue. A March 2014 Gallup poll found that climate change was not an issue of paramount concern to most Americans—only 24% claimed that they were very concerned, a decline from previous years. In fact, Americans were generally more concerned about the cost of energy than the quality of the environment, and topping the list of the nation’s worries was the economy.
Taking into account not only this context, but also the history of how new energy technologies have emerged and overtaken markets in the past, it becomes clear that if green energy is to prove itself to be more than a pipe dream in the 21st century it needs to prove itself as an economically viable alternative to the existing “brown” energy technologies. This raises the question succinctly presented in John Zysman and Mark Huberty’s 2013 book: Can Green Sustain Growth?
Their book explores how we can move from merely touting the values of a green economy to actually ushering in substantive paradigm shifts that make sustainability a reality. Below, co-author John Zysman, fields some questions about the challenges that lie ahead.