The green hope

1726IE Focus, April 2009 | By Javier Carillo, Professor at IE Business School
Green stands for hope as Governments worldwide start to consider new economic development models based on energy saving and clean technologies.
In recent decades the connection between the market economy and environmental sustainability has passed through different stages. The environment appeared on the international political agenda with the publication of the Brundtland report in 1987 and has gained in importance in various international and national legislations since then. Many companies still see this mandatory inclusion of a social objective in its private objectives as a burden on their results accounts. At the beginning of the 1990s, the enterprises that belonged to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) established the paradigm of eco-efficiency and started to see the private benefits of reducing environmental costs. More recently, two new dimensions have been added to the market-environment connection: the reduction of energy dependence and the creation of environmental business and employment.

Here, I will focus on the latter. Indeed, the so-called eco-industry is becoming the green hope for many governments. Indeed, there are indicators that point to optimism in the clean technologies sector. According to a recent report published by the Cleantech Group, investments in risk capital totalled US$8400 million in this sector in 2008 for the economies of North America, Europe, China and India. This result is a record in the sector and 38% up on the figure for 2007. It was tarnished only slightly in the last quarter of 2008, which was 4% down on the same quarter for the previous year, albeit on a notably worse economic scenario. The most outstanding technologies are solar (40%), biofuels (11%), transport (9.5%) and wind energy (6.0%). If world investment in renewable energies reaches the figure of US$630,000 million between now and the year 2030, the International Labour Organisation estimates that the sector could create twenty million new jobs.