We've already seen evidence that ethical consumerism bucked the recession, growing 18% in the UK. Similarly, clean energy investment has shown remarkable growth for much of the economic downturn. (There was a significant drop in renewables investment in Q3 of 2012.)
Now we read over at Environmental Business International that the global environmental market grew 4% in 2011, just above the general GDP rate of 3.9%. It should be noted that the growth, which translates to about $866bn, is attributable to a much broader sector than renewables, including solid waste treatment and water utilities. Nevertheless, clean energy more than held its own, despite significant policy uncertainty and a relative lack of political will:
Clean Energy Systems & Power ranks as the fourth largest segment in 2011, demonstrating robust 11% growth - significantly higher than the traditional infrastructure segments. Only Resource Recovery grew faster, up 13% in 2011.
"Renewable energy, water reuse, recycling, green building, energy efficiency and other areas under the resource recovery and clean energy umbrellas are all growing at rates higher than the economy in most nations," noted Stubbs. "For example, more than 10% of Germany's electricity production is now from renewable sources, and a few other countries are in the 2-5% range."
Now just imagine what would happen if the world got serious about tackling climate change. Obama's reelection may be a promising sign that the silence on the subject will at least break, but it would be nice if he stepped up and took some substantial action too.