As Europe continues to fumble about with the euro crisis, it seems that the environment has been pushed off the agenda. The low carbon/green economy is seldom talked about in these days of economic doom.
Yet going green and pursuing significant infrastructure development to help Europe hit its 20% renewable energy target by 2020 could be a good thing for its economic health. As the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change points out, the economy and the environment are very much interlinked.
Green growth is now being called for by the 'plan b' pundits, who are suggesting that Europe spends its way out of its current economic hole. The statistics do sound attractive. At a recent renewable energy event in the UK, much of the talk was about the opportunities arising from significant expansion of the UK’s offshore wind capacity. It was quoted that up to 80,000 new jobs could be created from investment in the wind sector and 20 new factories.
New industry supply chain infrastructure would be built around the offshore opportunity. Much of this new development would be in coastal locations, and new port facilities would be required to make sure that the necessary logistics capabilities were in place. In Germany, the offshore wind tariff has recently been increased, and co-investment funding has been put in place to help develop offshore wind capacity.
If the green growth option is to be taken up, governments need to properly get behind it and ideally it needs to be a pan-European effort. Governments will need to be in it for the long term, providing consistency and certainty. The recent flip-flopping by the UK government on solar feed-in tariffs is definitely not what we want.
So, while the news is all about us being in the red, perhaps if we go green we can get back in the black. It sounds so simple, however, the difficulty is that we will need the politicians to help make it happen.
Douglas Clark is director of Location Connections, an FDI consultancy for smart companies and winning locations. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org