The United Nations talk fest in Durban has raised the profile of clean energy, at least until this news cycle expires. What emerges is a puzzling fact: the US is letting an unprecedented opportunity slip through its hands.
No matter what people think of climate change or pollution, clean energy is a massively growing global business yet the US drags its feet. This is completely unlike us. We are leaders when it comes to capitalism and innovation and making a buck. What's going on?
Sunil Sharan of Sierra Consulting has some insight in the Washington Post.
"The production of renewable energy and smart grid technology is not the only way in which the United States is falling behind. Government gridlock at the federal and state level is slowing the nation’s progress. Despite a stalemate in federal policy, 24 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) — a binding target for renewable energy production.
"Others wait to gauge which way the national wind blows, while the rest will not act unless forced to. In sharp contrast to our inertia, the European Union, with a population of about 500 million, and a standard of living equivalent to ours, has forged ahead. In 2007, the EU leaders agreed to mandate that a 20 percent share of energy consumption must come from renewable sources by 2020. And the region is reportedly on track to meet that goal.
"Congress refuses to budge even as America continues to lose ground, and its intransigence could continue for years, compounding on the nation’s competitiveness problem. A way out is for President Obama to pass an executive order mandating a nationwide RPS, moderate enough to make the climate amenable for renewable energy but not so aggressive that it will be hard to meet or needlessly inflame partisan passions. Such an order would immediately empower the nation to compete for the world’s emerald laurel."
Politicians seem willing to trash the whole country as long as they make money and stay in office. So let's vote them out.