Towards a Global Green Recovery – Supporting Green Technology Markets

 academic article/report  Comments Off on Towards a Global Green Recovery – Supporting Green Technology Markets
Sep 212009

Two major global challenges – the financial crisis and climate change – make it urgent to rally the world behind the idea of a “green new deal” or a “global green recovery.” The financial crisis puts renewable energy projects and business at particular risk. The recession has caused a drop in energy and carbon prices that reduces the market competitiveness of clean technologies. In addition, the tightening credit markets mean that cleantech initiatives, which frequently face high capital costs and higher risk premiums, are struggling to find the necessary funding.

The risk of stagnation is especially disruptive to the cleantech industry as it comes on the heels of a rapid growth period prior to the financial crisis. In Germany, the cleantech sector grew 27% between 2005 and 2007, employed almost 1.8 million people, and now accounts for more than 5% of industrial production. From 2002 to 2007, global new investment in sustainable energy grew nearly 16-fold, from an annual US$7.1 billion to US$112.6 billion. The financial crisis created a severe investment shock in the cleantech sector, with new-investment levels in the first quarter of 2009 just under half what they were one year earlier.

This is absolutely the wrong time for a lull in cleantech investment. The International Energy Agency estimates that about 540 billion US dollars must be invested annually in renewable energy and energy efficiency if climate change is to be maintained at or below a 2°C increase in global average temperature. A significant expansion in investment will be required to reach these levels, with about 80% of the investment needed in just three key sectors: electrical power, transportation and buildings.

Several proven policies for expanding cleantech investment already exist, including feed-in tariffs, risk-mitigation policies, green-procurement policies, and government R&D spending, to name just a few. The key challenge for policy makers in trying to support the establishment of clean-technology markets is how to accelerate the implementation of these measures by obtaining the necessary funding and spending public monies wisely in a way that leverages the private sectors’ capability to shoulder the bulk of the needed investment.

To help G20 nations overcome these challenges, the German Federal Foreign Office asked Atlantic Initiative – a think tank on international politics and globalization based in Berlin and Washington, DC – to develop specific and actionable policy recommendations on how to provide effective international support to green technology markets and push the issue in the G20 framework. It was suggested that Germany, the UK and the US should be the main targets of these recommendations as they are well positioned to take a joint leadership role in setting the right incentives for a global green recovery and future growth path building on the idea of the Transatlantic Climate Bridge and taking into account London’s role as the G20 host. I was a co-author of the report. Please find it here.

Neue Chance gegen globale Erwärmung

 newspaper article  Comments Off on Neue Chance gegen globale Erwärmung
Jun 252008

Tony Blair sucht beim G8-Gipfel den transatlantischen Schulterschluss in der Klimapolitik. Doch Amerika wird sich kaum rühren.

Mit dem Hinweis, der Klimawandel sei für ihn die langfristig wichtigste globale Herausforderung, sagte Tony Blair der globalen Erwärmung den Kampf an. Zusammen mit der Entwicklung Afrikas gilt dem Thema das Hauptaugenmerk des Gipfels der acht größten Industrieländer im schottischen Gleneagles vom 6. bis 8. Juli. Doch während etwa bei der Entschuldung der ärmsten afrikanischen Staaten bereits im Vorfeld Einigkeit erzielt wurde, besteht in der Klimafrage die Spaltung zwischen den Vereinigten Staaten und dem Rest der G8 fort: Der größte Verursacher von Treibhausgasen verweigert unter der Führung von George W. Bush weiterhin jegliche Zusagen zur Emissionsreduzierung – entgegen allen wissenschaftlichen Empfehlungen. DIE ZEIT, 7 Jul 2005

The Climate Changes: Europe Learns to Lead

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on The Climate Changes: Europe Learns to Lead
Mar 012008

At their summit last week, the twenty-seven member countries of the European Union agreed on an impressive package of climate policy targets. The union committed to an overall goal of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Bio-fuels in transport must then account for at least 10 percent, and no less than one fifth of EU energy will have to be generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydro power. The agreement was quickly praised as “groundbreaking” and “bold” by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, “the most ambitious package ever agreed by any commission or any group of countries on energy security and climate protection” by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and as constituting a “new quality of climate policy” and the basis for a “third technological revolution” by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Politicians’ eulogizing of their own efforts is nothing new in politics, not even in the EU which has not exactly been crowned with success in recent years. Still, for a number of reasons the accord might indeed stand as a remarkable milestone in European diplomatic history.

BLOG, March 2007 (PDF)


The Failures of American and European Climate Policy: International Norms, Domestic Politics, and Unachievable Commitments

 academic article/report  Comments Off on The Failures of American and European Climate Policy: International Norms, Domestic Politics, and Unachievable Commitments
Nov 092007

Climate change has been one of the most contentious issues in the transatlantic relationship. The persistent divide escalated when President Bush abandoned the Kyoto Protocol in early 2001. Since then, the EU has emerged as the most fervent leader of this UN-sponsored treaty while the United States has remained the only major developed country, aside from Australia, to oppose it. Why is that? In light of their many similarities, the sources of the rift between Americans and Europeans are puzzling. With The Failures of American and European Climate Policy, Loren Cass provides the most extensive and well-researched comparative study of United States and European Union atmospheric protection to date. In addition to the EU itself, he focuses on Germany and the United Kingdom, its two most- outspoken members on this issue. The book is precisely and eloquently written. It is a valuable contribution to existing literature on the domestic adoption (or rejection) of international norms. Above all, the book is destined to become essential reading for students of these four political actors, all of which will remain crucial for confronting this century’s most pressing global challenge.

BOOK REVIEW, GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS, November 2007, Vol. 7, No. 4, Pages 149-151