Who Says the Green Stuff Doesn’t Work?

Since the Kyoto agreement first entered the stage in the 1990s, it has been met with strong opposition, particularly from Western industrialists. Their argument was that if their countries were to adopt the Kyoto’s tough carbon dioxide reducing schedule, jobs would suffer, and even more so would the overall economies. And while most Western politicians are going back to Kyoto only when they wish to score easy election points, there is one Western country actually making it work — Germany!

It is said that the third industrial revolution will be all about laying off fossil fuels and finding ways to develop alternative energy sources and technologies to replace the old, dirty carbon. In other words, the third industrial revolution will be all about saving the planet from global warming. A noble cause, no doubt, but a tough one to follow, or so say the Kyoto opponents in North America.

Yet, apparently, the green revolution had no problem developing roots in Germany. In fact, the usual number one quoted reason to oppose Kyoto — job losses — has been turned upside-down in Germany and into the country’s major job creation machine. It is estimated that, in the next decade, the alternative energy and ecologically friendly technologies will generate more jobs than the traditional sources: engineering and automotive industries.

In concrete numbers, so far there were 250,000 new jobs created in Germany, from jobs manufacturing new fuel cells, to electric cars, to wind turbines, to components for energy-efficient homes, etc. Furthermore, by 2020, there should be 150,000 new and green jobs in Germany. And also within the same time span, industry revenues are expected to grow 17% to $45.0 billion.

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But who is paying for the green revolution in Germany? The answer is the one that has been putting off North Americans from Kyoto since the beginning — taxpayers. Creating new jobs costs money. The green revolution is very capital intensive, and much of it is funded by the government, which earns revenues through taxation, of course. For example, the German government has used legislation to guarantee the solar market, whereby power companies are mandated to acquire energy from green sources and at fixed prices, which, at this point, are significantly higher than market prices.

It is entirely possible that German taxpayers will one day get tired of footing the bill. On the other hand, those same taxpayers just might have the vision to look beyond the initial hits to their take- home income and support green benefits in the long run, the future of their children included. After all, taxpayers all over the world have been milked by their governments for far, far lesser causes than saving the planet from climate change.