The US Should Be Denmark: Tom Friedman on Greening the Economy

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photo: World Resources Institute

By this point we’ve all heard it dozens of times: Green jobs will revitalize the economy. And though by most accounts the stats bear out that near-maxim, nonetheless transforming our current brown economy to one a nice healthy shade of green is easier said than done. In a brief interview with The Huffington Post, Tom Friedman outlined the sort of effort required to make this sort of transformation.

The most interesting example he gave, as a model to prove that it can be done, is from Denmark:That Should Be Us, That Should Be Us 1973 Denmark was the other country that got hit with the Arab oil embargo. They got hit so hard they stopped sunday driving. You couldn't drive in Denmark on sunday.

They said, "We're never going to be in that situation again." They instituted a gasoline tax. Gas costs $10 a gallon in Denmark today. And they instituted a CO2 tax. You go to your electric bill in Denmark and you actually see "CO2 tax."

They bit the bullet, they designed a program that would both diminish on a steady basis their energy use per unit of GDP and they stimulated a huge green energy industry. There are only 5 million people in Denmark, yet they produce one out of every three wind turbines and they have the top two cellulosic enzyme companies in the world. That should be us. That should be us.

Denmark Transformation a Political Commitment
Reading that reminded me of what Danish politician Helle Thorning-Schmidt said at the Clinton Global Initiative regarding her county’s energy transformation.

Paraphrasing: Such a transformation is more about political commitment than anything else, that it is one which requires a long-term vision, it is one which cannot be done my markets alone—you have to have the right incentive structures in place—and, it is one that can happen regardless of the size of the country.

We Need To Make a Similar Commitment
As a nation, you have to say—to bridge this back to Friedman a bit—this is who we are, this is what we want to be and this is what we are going to do: We are going to make the political commitment, the cultural and political choice, to only use environmental friendly sources of energy, manufacturing methods and civic development models. We are going to put this above maximizing short-term gain, because in the long-term it is better for all concerned.

via: Huffington Post
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