With many European and Asian countries pushing forward with policies that promote the development of green tech, the U.S. continues to lag behind, stuck in the mire of partisan politics and climate change skepticism.
The result is that U.S. businesses are missing out on a booming, $5 trillion industry. Writing in the New York Times, Elizabeth Rosenthal tracks the case of the Mark Group, a British energy efficiency company that has enjoyed massive growth in the past decade, thanks largely to UK government subsidies for energy conservation. The company is now making inroads in the U.S., where the market for home efficiency retrofits is “nearly untouched.”
In other green industries, like wind power, the picture is much the same. Only one of the three largest operators of wind farms doing business in the U.S. is American (NextEra), and the top ten manufacturers of wind turbine parts includes only one American company (General Electric).
Without stronger federal incentives, will the U.S. be able to compete?
Emily Carter, a professor of energy and the environment at Princeton University, doesn’t think so. “If we don’t invest in ways to efficiently produce sustainable energy, then I worry that once we stop importing from the Middle East, we’ll simply find ourselves importing from China.”
Photo: Insulation being sprayed in the attic of a home in Flourtown, Pa. (Ryan Collerd / NYT)