Managing (green) change: what and who

pollution, environment, drone

The emergence of a green economy still remains at the margins of economic policy in most countries. However, as a number of international organisations have been telling us for three decades now, we need to drastically reduce our carbon output. So what obstacles are we facing? And what do we need to change in our strategies?

Public authorities play a key role in steering the green transition. It is mainly up to them to correct misaligned incentives and market failures, that allow current levels of CO2 emissions to continue unabated. Given the urgency and scale of transformation, we are asking them for a greater level of ambition, namely to go deeper than the “business as usual” green strategies that have been designed and delivered in the last decades. In conjunction with businesses, civil society and other stakeholders, they should guide investment in green projects, whilst ensuring equity and redistribution.  We need new economic models, but this time underpinned in a sustainable use of Earth’s resources, so that different generations can equally use them.

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What are Green Technologies

Technology is basically man-made practical application of knowledge. And it has a clear purpose. A technology that is green simply means that its purpose is to have lesser or zero environmental impact. However simple in theory this presents a greater challenge than we might expect at first.

We can differentiate green technologies according to their specific objectives:

    • Efficient use of resources. These technologies reduce resource use by energy unit. For example, extracting and burning fossil fuels to produce electricity yields considerable waste: two-thirds of the energy in fossil fuels is lost – vented as heat. This besides the fact that it also releases carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping GHG to the atmosphere with additional invisible costs.
    • Contribution to less climate change. These technologies help us reduce carbon emissions to low or even zero net level compare to other more carbon-intensive technologies. Renewable energy technologies for example have received increased publicity in recent years, given their potential to overturn carbon accumulation while maintaining our general consumption habits (i.e. automobile dependency).
    • Environmental adaptation and remediation. Some technologies make us more resilient and resistant to climate extremes and/or are able to help us clean pollution or other problems. For example, there are technologies that enable CO2 withdrawal from the atmosphere (ex. Carbon Storage and Capture)

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An inclusive green transition

It goes without saying that the green transition must have people at its core, from each individual political or technical decision to the fundamental vision driving the wide-ranging initiatives. A greener but unbalanced economy, where important sections of the population do not have access to quality jobs, cannot be qualified as a success. It will definitely also undermine its political viability, the same way as the on-going unbalanced digital transformation is throwing a high number of workers into low-paying jobs and altering the political landscape as we have known for decades.

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