Environmental quality and the economy
I found this piece in the CSR frustratingly sketchy and inconclusive. It makes the somewhat obvious point that restrictive environmental regulations stimulate the growth of industries and technologies that meliorate environmental impacts. Pass a law that says coal-fired power plants have to install scrubbers, the scrubber industry benefits. So for that class of industries and technologies, environmental regulations do not, contra the anti-Kyoto crowd, suppress economic development.
But that gets us nowhere. As the author acknowledges:
Of course, green technology represents only a small part of the nation’s economy. Gauging whether stricter environmental regulation helps – or hurts – the overall economy is tougher and more controversial.
To say the least. There’s a good bit of research indicating that improving environmental quality is not an overall drag on the economy. But what greens need is a compelling — and by compelling I don’t mean rhetorically compelling, but empirically compelling — case that clean technology is naturally going to grow and eventually eclipse polluting technology, and thus that it would be wise economically to use public policy to nudge us in that direction. That’s certainly what I believe, and so too does Eric de Place:
Maintaining our economy’s singular reliance on fossil fuels is not a smart growth strategy for the 21st century. Global supplies of petroleum are waning and combating climate change (principally through reductions in fossil fuel combustion) will become ever-more important. So clean energy alternatives and energy efficiency will be critical in the coming decades.
Numbers, though. I want numbers. Readers, help out: Point me to some numbers.