Thursday, Oct 30, 2008
A growing “carbon army” of environmentalists, bankers and investors has seized on official backing last week for major public spending announced in Britain and the United States.
They see it not just as a way to boost flagging economies, but also as an opportunity to promote investment in green energy projects.
In times of downturn, spending on infrastructure can prime demand, provide work and avert depression, a lesson learned from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s.
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Green projects that would be candidates include wind and solar farms, efficiency programs to curb demand for carbon-emitting fossil fuels, and “scrubbers” to absorb carbon dioxide from smokestacks of coal-burning plants.
“You’re going to have a classic green stimulus, and when you talk about infrastructure it’s about renewables, it’s the power grid, the water sector, buildings, energy efficiency and public transport,” said Mark Fulton, global head of climate change investment research at Deutsche Bank.
A $3.3 trillion bank bailout pledged by governments in the past month contrasts with the lower costs of measures that could dent the world’s energy demands and cut carbon emissions at a time of dwindling resources and rising populations.
The narrow time-frame to create jobs and spur the economy, however, does not match the long lag time to develop large-scale renewable energy projects, where colossal investment is required. These would include technologies such as off-shore wind, tidal power and carbon scrubbers, which are still being tested or require planning consent.
Energy efficiency projects, for example to insulate homes, may fit the bill.