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The Environment: Banking on the Innovation Economy

The Environment: Banking on the Innovation Economy

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Twenty years: that is the timeframe that we have adopted to restore the Earth’s climate. If we fail, our countries will be unable to survive the three-fold population, global warming and energy crisis that will culminate in 2030. Although the Grenelle Environment Round Table marked a new threshold in France in the effort to raise public awareness, implementing a “green” policy requires us to go beyond false debates and time-worn customs in order to promote an ecologically innovative economy.In this Working Paper, in the spirit of the Grenelle Environment Round Table, Geneviève Ferone, Bertrand Limoges and Jean-Didier Vincent warn against the danger of a centrally planned environment-focussed economy, with its proliferation of new taxes, regulations, controls, penalties, jurisdictions and sanctions. The temptation of such an economy is present in today’s Europe. The United States has made the opposite choice: that of promoting technological innovation through every possible means. Such an approach is appropriate if a country is banking on strong growth in order to finance the dissemination of technological solutions to climate change in the future. Britain’s Stern Report takes the opposite presumption: that of very weak global growth. It calls for immediate and heavy expenditure. According to Stern, we must act quickly, for in a few years we will no longer have sufficient financial means to win the fight against global warming.
Yet regulatory measures will scarcely have an impact without an innovative market capable of offering effective technological solutions. According to this document’s authors, the ratchet effect between the public and private sectors is key to sustaining innovative markets. In addition to mobilizing all stakeholders — the State, associations, investors, consumers — they suggest establishing unique public-private partnerships ranging from the design to the marketing of eco-solutions. This would allow regulations to be replaced more easily and efficiently so as to better promote and disseminate innovations that would safeguard what have now become rare resources.

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