Friday, February 22, 2008

US Leadership in Clean Technology?

When one thinks about the leaders in efforts to combat climate change, the US does not immediately come to mind. More likely Europe, Japan, or even Costa Rica. But that could be a misleading impression, based solely upon our federal government and in particular its failure to ratify Kyoto. This will of course change soon; all the remaining presidential candidates – even Huckabee, who does not believe in evolution -- are supportive of efforts to combat climate change.

Perhaps more to the point, business is on board, partly in anticipation of GHG emissions carrying a price tag soon. The Financial Times last month published an article about how the amount of US venture capital going into GHG abatement technology was threatening Europe’s lead. According to Cleantech, a US research group, European investment in clean technology companies was only a third of the $3.7bn invested by US investors.

As reported by Reuters and AP, last week saw a UN summit where institutional investors pledged to invest $10bn over the next two years in technologies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plan "reflects the many investment opportunities that exist today to put a dent in global warming pollution, build profits and benefit the global economy," said Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental leaders, and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk. Lubber called it the largest meeting of financial leaders ever to focus on climate change and said it would illustrate how the marketplace is starting to transform.

The gathering of 480 investors and other Wall Street types, representing $20 trillion in capital, was organized by groups supporting UN efforts such as the UN Foundation, Ceres and the UN Fund for International Partnerships. For the full Reuters/AP story see

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